As we continued the training in Rio, it became evident that the quality of life was wearing on everyone. Not just us visitors, but also for the ones who live there on a continual basis. The hustle and bustle of their everyday existence becomes more difficult than in other societies, mainly because of the negativity that surrounds their community. They tell us daily that they think their neighborhood is ugly and it starts to become clearer to us why our students have had little hope for their future.
One day during a lecture I was giving, a woman came in to have her son’s hair cut. Her status is well known in the community and the majority of people look down at her because she sells herself to support for her family. They shun her because she is a mother trying to provide by any means necessary and because of this, she is looked at as a bad person. Then again, she would be looked at as a bad person in most communities, wouldn’t she? Most people wouldn’t want to associate with a person like her because of her career choice although she is putting herself through hell so she can feed her son. And if this was her choice what were her options? Its sad that selling yourself is looked at so disgracefully, when in reality, it’s the most selfless thing you can do for those whom you are providing for.
One of our students stood up and offered to cut her son’s hair. He was so squirmy and although it was very hard to get through, she did a great job making him once again a cute and clean little boy. The woman thanked us for our services and they went on their way. It was so hard to watch the two of them leave. Knowing that as they walk away from our safe haven, they are then walking into a cruel and judgmental world. However, I understand that it is the only life they know and quite possibly the only life they will ever know. This may be her reality, it is still not ok. It’s not ok that a woman has no other option to provide but to sell herself. This only means that there is far more work for us to do, not only here in Brazil, but all over the world.
I have talked to many people about serving those in need, both in America and overseas, and it astounds me that so many people have the attitude of “do you really think you can change the world” or “how much can you really do in that short of a time?” or “can you really stop injustice on a global scale?” and on and on. If everyone had that mindset, nothing would get done. If you want to see things on earth get any better, you cannot do it by criticizing those who try. Anyone can make a difference. Even if it’s a small one. Like Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
I hope I will always be the change I want to see in the world and I pray these projects inspire others to want to be the change they want to see in the world.