As I was growing up, alongside my sister and three brothers, for no specific reasons, our mother would beat us up every single day. She had an obsession for cleaning and would not let us leave for school before cleaning the house spotless clean. The problem was that we would get to school about an hour late almost every day. However, I loved school! Why? It was because it was the only time I could actually have some fun without my mother's oppression and beatings. It was obvious that I did not like to study; my poor grades were clear evidences. I loved school because it was a time that I would have the most fun, which allowed me to forget for some hours my painful reality while at home.
My father was always out of the house. He was the one bringing food to the table. Although he knew the way my mother treated us, he optioned not to do anything about it. I never understood his reasoning and did not dare to question him.
When I was nine, my mother’s father passed away. The following day, a car came to pick up my parents and three of my relatives for the funeral. I still remember that early afternoon very clearly. I was crying and sobbing uncontrollably and begged my mother to let me go with them, but she said: “It’s not your time, son.” They headed out. The next thing I know, through the news on T.V., is that the car in which they were driving down to my grandfather’s funeral went under a semi-truck, breaking everyone’s necks and several other parts of their bodies. All of them died but my father, whose skull was cracked opened, exposing his brain. He was stuck in the car. There were two iron sticks puncturing from his belly through his back. He was hanging by those irons. At first, the paramedics had declared him dead as well, but on the way to the hospital, words came out of his mouth and they immediately took him to the emergency room. He stayed in the hospital for about six months. While in the hospital, we, the children, without a mother and a father, stayed separated from each other with other relatives. No one had still broken the news to him that his wife, and our mother died in the crash.
From the hospital, my father went to stay in his mother’s house for about two more months under light medical treatments.
Still in no condition to work, my father insists that we all return to our house. To our unfortunate surprise, everything in it was stolen! We had no refrigerator, no stove, no blankets, and no mattresses. We were just children and could not work. Our father was really proud and would not allow others to know about our “degrading” situation, as he would say it. Result? We go through starvation. To this day I still clearly remember this drastic moment when one piece of bean found would be a fulfilling meal for at least one of us for that day.
While all this is happening, my father was able to find some odd jobs, from which we could barely survive. One of these odd jobs was with an American missionary family that had just arrived in the neighborhood. Knowing of my father's line of work, the American pastor offered him a job to design his house and build it.
While building the house, our families got to know each other well. In the process, the American pastor found out that my father was sexually abusing my 13-year-old sister. I was the one who caught my father on top of her, and to this day I have that memory printed in my mind. I was shocked and desperate. Seeing this unbearable situation, I did not know what to do. I did not want my father nor sister to get in trouble; so I did not tell anyone. But that memory was so intense, vivid, and disturbing in my mind on a daily basis that I couldn't take it anymore. One day while walking back from school, I was determined to alleviate the pressure and get that memory off my mind. Walking alone while crying, I decided to commit suicide. I was jumping in front of the first car I heard going my direction! Thankfully, for some reason, as I was about to jump, I froze and literally could not move!
While the days go by, my father warned us that if any one of us would tell others about our situation, he would go after each one of us and kill us all, one by one, and then he would kill himself. Threats like these were constantly emphasized through his harsh voice throughout that year.
At the age of 17, my sister got a job. One night she stayed out longer than usual. There was a heavy rain outside and my brothers and I were sleeping. Suddenly, I woke up sweating and when stepping barefooted on the floor, I slightly burned my feet and soon realized that the house is on fire. My father was downstairs screaming for my sister: “Where are you? Where are you?!”
I told my brothers to run away because after dad finds her he is going to kill her and then come after us. I called my older brother, who was an adult and out of our lives, and told him that dad was after our sister and that the house was on fire. I waited outside the house and unexpectedly fell asleep. My brothers went to our relatives' house to ask for help. They were well aware of our family’s situation, but decided to take no action. Wait... They did take an action; they shut the door on my brothers’ faces, rejecting their own blood and leaving these children outside in the rain alone and helpless. My brothers went to the woods for shelter under that heavy rain, and soaked in water, they shivered till the next morning hoping it would be a sunny morning.
The headlights of my father’s car woke me up upon his arrival back to their house. He went into the fire looking for my sister in her room to see if she had returned. She had not. In the meanwhile my older brother arrived. I told him that dad was in the house and had not come out since he went in, which had been approximately ten minutes. While the house was still on fire, and no sign of our father, we went into the house and saw our father in the middle of the room lying down. He was asphyxiated from the smoke. W pulled him out and realized he was not breathing. I looked at my brother and told him to do C.P.R. on him, but he just stood there and looked at me saying nothing and doing nothing. His expressions were clear: “Mayc, if we try to do something, he is going after us all and will kill us and kill himself afterwards anyways.” I immediately jumped on my father’s chest and started pressing it and breathing into his mouth. I tried it once, twice, but nothing. I tried once again and dad finally took a deep breath. He was alive! But the first words that come out from his mouth were: “Where is she? I have to find her!” He got up and once again went after her. She was with my uncle. For some reason, now knew where she was. He went that way, and fortunately, before dad used the knife to stab my sister, who was about 20 feet away, the police stepped in and tackled him down to the ground. He was arrested.
The following day they, we the children, organized a meeting with our relatives to ask for their help. In the room, they went around and asked each uncle and aunt individually if they could take care of us. There were about fifteen relatives. To worsen our situation, every single one of our relatives said "No". Rejection seemed to be constant in my life.
With their cowardliness and lack of compassion, my brother stormed out of the room and took the five of us into his small apartment. His and my sister’s income was not enough to keep us going not even for about a month. When I thought about our situation and looked into the empty refrigerator, I realized we desperately needed help. We went to the American missionary family once again and asked if they could take care of us. The American pastor’s wife called her husband up, who was in another state doing missions work, and told him: “They are here, they need us. Now.” The pastor immediately bought a flight ticket and arrived the following day to rescue us, which happened to be his birthday. This distant, unattached, and obligation-free family were the only ones who did not reject my siblings and I.
As deemed appropriate and safe by national laws, my father lost full custody of us. The five of us were now being adopted by this American missionary family. The first month into their house, we already started calling them dad and mom. They did not force us to call them as such. That was simply what we all felt like they were. We FINALLY HAD A FATHER AND A MOTHER WHO LOVED US AND TREATED US LIKE SONS AND DAUGHTER.
Within that very first month, as the American family had planned before we arrived at the house, we all moved from Florianopolis, Brazil to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the seeds of the gospel were being planted. We were now enrolled in school, learning how to learn and love the subjects we were being taught. Surprisingly, we became leaders in the community and started teaching bible studies, running youth services, preaching the gospel everywhere we went, and leading lives to self-sustainability and personal development.
After three years of intense change and growth, the time arrived for us to move to the great U.S.A. Continuing our education, throughout high school, even though knowing no English when I first arrived, I was a straight A’s student. With the tremendous daily support of my new dad, mom, and many others around me, I graduated high school with all tuition, fees, and room and board paid for to several top universities, with a total of over $574,500 in scholarships. I decided to attend Wabash College; and four years later graduated and started my own business in Coaching and Consulting.
While still in his studies in high school, my brother Guilherme, formally known as William, landed a chemical internship at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). In this internship, several doctors, including one from Germany, had been looking for the formula for two years to align quantum dots in a mixture. In his very first month of working with the doctors, William came in and found the formula. He wrote a report on his procedures and the doctors honored him and published his report along with their work. Harvard Review took a look at their work and published their piece in their magazine. The following summer, William started his internship at NASA and consequently received a full-ride scholarship to Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terra Haute, Indiana. My youngest brother Douglas, a born leader and God fearful passionate brother, went on to and graduated from West Point Military Academy.
There is a reason why I share my life story with you. People, listen! No matter where you are in life, a new beginning is always awaiting for you! From starvation and living in the streets, I now take part in the American Dream.
Remember, whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, stay focused, and stay positive!
Never lose hope. The only constant thing in life is change. Let me help you be ready for it.
Every single one of us have had some kind of struggle in our lives. We all make decisions, and we must rest assured that as long as we live, we have to reap the results of such decisions. Our free will to do whatever we want can in turn be a benefit or problem.
My father is an architect and a contractor; and my mother is a stay-at-home mother. Rejection, humiliation, lies, and starvation are all part of my journey. Although my life as a child in my own eyes was actually fun (for it is a child's tendency to focus on happiness), from an outsider's perspective my life was simply devastating. I know I didn't deserve much, but sometimes suddenly all of my problems became small; I was given an amazing life changing opportunity.