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Carol: on the road to a better tomorrow

Carol: on the road to a better tomorrow

It’s 5:00 am. Time to get up for mother and daughter. Carol, 20 years old, is so used to waking up at this early hour she doesn’t need an alarm clock. She takes a shower using a bucket of water and cup. In her humble two-room home, water only arrives at the street level and needs to be stored outside in a water tank covered with a screen to ward off insects. Her showers are cold. But that’s not a problem most days because the climate in Moreno, a small town in the outskirts of Greater Recife, though cooler than in the great metropolis, remains well above 25 degrees Celsius most days of the year.

From her little home perched on top of one of the highest hills in Moreno, Carol will treck to her place of work in the industrial park located in the city of Recife. It will take her 1:15 min to arrive using a route that involves a walk to the bus station, a bus ride to the metro station and the final walk to her place of work. Because bus schedules are not reliable and a lot can happen on the route, she prefers to arrive most days 50 minutes early rather than risk being late.

Carol is ambitious, diligent, intelligent and well read. She reads an average of 20 books per year, a truly remarkable feat considering that one book represents 5% of her family’s monthly income and the fact that her city does not have a lending library.

She will talk freely about her favorite author, Augusto Cury, a Brazilian physician, psychiatrist, psychotherapist and best selling writer. From her reading, she has learned to explore the world around her, especially those issues dear to her heart. The most important theme has been emotional intelligence. Developing resilience has been a must. Since birth, she has dealt with poverty and loss. Her father left the home in a cloud of shame when she was 5 years old, succumbing to TB five years later in the jail where he was expected to serve his 15-year sentence. Since then, it has been only mother and daughter. Her greatest dream is to rise above so many limiting circumstances, bringing her mother along with her to a new and better life.

A lot of this hope has been nurtured by her mother, whose faith found a nurturing environment in the Assemblies of God local congregation. Carol’s own faith and the opportunities she found recently with the THE MENTORING AND SKILLS TRAINING PROGRAMME are the other two sources of encouragement. This Programme is partly funded by Happy Child International and executed by the Brazilian non-profit Instituto Solidare. It takes advantage of a law requiring big corporations to reserve a small percentage of openings to underprivileged young workers allowing them to have their first work experience. Without Happy Child’s additional support, the programme would not be able to prepare the teens to enter in an arena very foreign to all their previous life experiences. Paulo, this programme’s coordinator says “The most important job is to help them believe in their own potential.” This preparation has been shown to be a key to success.

After preparation, Instituto Solidare works in partnership with corporations within Greater Recife to place them. One of these partnering organizations is Gerdau. Gerdau is the leading company in the production of long steel in the Americas and one of the major suppliers of specialty long steel in the world and employs more than 28,000 employees. Carol says “The happiest day of my life was the day I received the call to work at Gerdau.” It’s a humble beginning. Gerdau is committed to keeping her on the prescribed 2-year contract, but it is only 20 hours per week, receiving a minimum wage.

For Carol, this is not about how much she makes but about how far she can reach if she walks through this open door. This is a path to a brighter future and she will do everything in her power to stay the course. Her favorite quote from Augusto Cury expresses her attitude very well: “Nobody is worthy of the oasis if they don't learn to cross their own deserts”.

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