A Death in Honduras

Karla & Marc
This morning I awoke to terrible news from Honduras.

I never met Karla Sandoval, but I saw her many times in Facebook photos. For a few years now I’ve followed the work of MarcTerri Tindall in Honduras, and in their photos and those of others who have gone on mission trips there I have often seen this girl. A couple of years ago her mother died of AIDS, and when no place could be found with her natural family, she went to live with the Tindalls. She was said to be a bright, energetic child. I was saddened to learn that yesterday she passed away at age 13 from what is believed to have been meningitis.

I’m very sorry that the world has lost her, and grateful to the Tindalls for having given her a loving home for the time they were able.

Terri Tindall’s account of Karla’s passing.

Brazilians Who’ve Lived Overseas

Although I’ve only been back in Brazil less than two months, I’ve run into a handful of Brazilian’s who’ve lived overseas. When they realize that I am not from here, their eyes sort of light up and they say with a somewhat wistful tone that they lived in some other country for a time as well. Three examples come to mind most clearly.

A doorman at a local company where I teach English to upper management realized the first time he saw me that I’m foreign. He immediately told me about how he’d spent around 5 years in London. He said it was a good experience, but life there was too much of a rat race. It was all work and no play, so he came home. He says in the future he’d like to visit England again…as a tourist. When I see him I try to say a few words to him in English, as he seems to enjoy that.

The other day I took my kids to a government office to request their ID cards. I asked a woman there a question, and she noticed my accent. She asked if I spoke French, and I said “no,” explaining that I’m from the United States and speak English. She then explained that she’d lived a few years in Belgium.

This past Saturday I was working on fixing up a house we’ll be moving to on the other side of the city, in the Santa Mônica neighborhood, and needed some extra supplies. At a hardware around the corner from the house the clerk asked me if I spoke German (that accent, yet again!). I told him that I’m from the U.S. and speak only English and Portuguese. He explained that he’d lived in Germany for 12 years, as although he’s Brazilian by birth, he has German citizenship through his grandparents. His languages are Portuguese, German and Italian.

In every case I’ve noticed two things:

1) Brazilians who have lived in other countries feel a connection with foreign nationals, sort of like they are “insiders.” It sets them apart in their minds, I think, that they have a different perspective on life in the wider world than the average Brazilian. That’s understandable to me.

2) These folks really want a chance to speak their second language. I can relate to that, as in New York I’d often here random conversations among Brazilian tourists in the street and almost want to join in.

So many have lived outside of Brazil. For a while I’ve wondered if they’ll have any mass effect on Brazil, whether in commerce or politics. It’s still too soon to tell, I think.

Bus Strike Averted

It appears that the proposed bus workers strike in Uberlândia has been called off. Their union reached an agreement late last week with management. Most notably, they’ll be receiving a 7% increase in wages, effective March 31.

As a regular user of the city bus, I’m glad they came together on this matter. No bus would mean no way for me to get to work. At the same time, it reinforces the importance for me to find a solid “day job” and buy a car.

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Life is More Than Individual Accomplishments

Chris Hadfield has been described as a “rock star astronaut.” Since the age of 9 he’d dreamed of going into space and he worked toward that goal for years. Now, having commanded three missions, he’s reached the limit of times he can go. What’s next for him?
For many, this would be a high point that he’ll never be able to top. A somewhat depressing thought. Instead, he tells us (in terms of speaking to people who compete in the Olympics) to enjoy the journey, both before and after. Below is a quote, and then a segment of a larger interview in which he talks about his philosophy toward life.

“…you need to honour the highs and the peaks in the moments — you need to prepare your life for them — but recognize the fact that the preparation for those moments is your life and, in fact, that’s the richness of your life. … The challenge that we set for each other, and the way that we shape ourselves to rise to that challenge, is life.”

Ticket to Paradise: A Short Documentary About Haitian Immigrants in Brazil

When I heard a month or so ago that “Ticket to Paradise” was going to be broadcast by Al Jazeera and also made available online, I knew I wouldn’t want to miss it. Haitians have been arriving in Brazil since 2010, looking for a better life after the devastation of the massive earthquake there that killed untold thousands and left survivors homeless and in dire need. In fact, immigrants from many nations have been attracted by stories of Brazil’s “booming economy.” Thousands have arrived in the state of Acre via a perilous route through other South American countries, paying a small fortune to “coyotes” to get them across borders and through countries.

It was heartwarming to see close-up the help Damião, an ex-soccer player, has been providing in terms of legalization and employment assistance. This documentary follows him and his Haitian assistant, Ricardo. Although Brazil is not quite the “paradise” many, including Haitian immigrants, imagine it to be, it is certainly vastly better than Haiti ever has been or is today.

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