Often, my posts about daily life in Brazil reflect a critical point of view, coming from comparing a developing country to my previous life in the developed world. I wanted to write today about a very positive cultural aspect I really appreciate about the Brazilian quotidian.
The sense of community and helping the ones in need on a daily basis rather than donating to charity is very strong.
I want to tell you about Cida, to illustrate this.
Cida, or Cidinha as we affectionately call her, is a service lady that works in the kitchenette on my floor at work, bringing coffee and water to our tables and meeting rooms. Cida looks thirty something to me. She is a single mom of two kids, living in a favela far away so it takes her two hours to get to work every day. She is proud to say that she has social housing (Minha Casa Minha Vida), rather than living in improvised structures like many of the other favela inhabitants. Cida has only elementary school education; She says that her father did not want her to study, and preferred her to stay at home but she used to go to school despite this. According to her, even though he used to beat her mother and sisters, she loves her dad very much as he was always very devoted to them. It is Cida´s dream to have her kids study and go to University. She is saving to send her 12 year old for English classes as she sees he is doing very well in school on this subject.
Aside from her work responsibilities, Cida does various things to make extra money – she sells cosmetics, she stays up late to bake cakes and sells them at work, she buys groceries and fruits to make juices and sandwiches to keep us away from hunger in our daily routine. Everyone loves Cida with her big smile and kind eyes and spends time chatting with her about life, soap operas and other issues in our little kitchenette.
Recently, Cida didn´t arrive to work one day, and when she finally did arrive she looked very sad and defeated. We found out that in the recent rainfall, her neighborhood got severely flooded among the various damages her house suffered, her fridge was destroyed. In the same day, our floor collected almost two thousand reals for her to get a new fridge. The response was immediate and everyone was more than eager to try and help out.
When we delivered the money to Cida, along with a card, she didn´t know whether to cry or to laugh. She first kept quiet and then she asked to speak. She thanked us and instead of complaining about her situation, she talked about how grateful and happy she was because her situation was much better than some of her neighbors, who had lost everything and will not be able to recover. She was hosting some of those in her little house.
That day, and Cida´s speech really made me reflect about how much I have in my life and how it can be so easy sometimes to make a difference in the life of someone who is close but yet so far.