The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
Note from BW of Brazil: With the first round of elections for president of Brazil now being narrowed down to just two, the incumbent Dilma Rousseff of the PT (Workers’ Party) and Aécio Neves of the PSDB, Brazilians will have a choice between maintaining the current path of the country in 12 years of the Workers Party, 8 with Lula da Silva and 4 with Rousseff, or choosing a new direction with Neves. With Neves currently polling ahead of Rousseff, we can expect that the PT will surely step up their commercials reminding those who have benefited most from their time in power exactly what has been accomplished. This will apply particularly to poor and Afro-Brazilians who, due to PT policies, gained greater access to middle class status and college educations. Even with the possibility of electing the country’s first black president in the candidacy of the PSB’s Marina Silva, black Brazilians threw their support behind the party that granted them access to better lifestyles than previous administrations. This is clearly an easy choice in Rousseff in comparison to Neves, who many see as a representation of a return to previous conditions.
When we consider that Neves has already stated that he would support implementing an increasing militarization of neighborhoods throughout Brazil, similar to the special Military Police UPP units who have a reputation for killing Afro-Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro where these types of units maintain a presence in full military gear. Representatives from Neves’s camp have also voiced support for the privatization of Brazil’s universities, another move which would directly affect Afro-Brazilians. Needless to say, privatization of the nation’s universities would make success stories, such as the one featured below, more difficult to attain. As such, for those who want to keep the door open to more social advances, the choice won’t be difficult.
“We saw three, four generations working in the same family as maids. Now we don’t have this anymore. My daughters are in college”
Courtesy of the Instituto Lula
“Ten years ago, a maid, a bricklayer or a carpenter that came to a place and said that he had a son in college he was a laughingstock. Everyone laughed at them.” The statement is from Analice Oliveira Souza reflecting on the reality experienced by thousands of Brazilians in the not-so-distant past. Today, with the support of access to education and economic empowerment programs, the 46-year old maid, who didn’t finish elementary school can boast of having two of her daughters in college and a son working in one of the largest companies in the world, Petrobras.
Born in the Bahian municipality of Ipirá, Analice had a difficult childhood along with her parents and three siblings. The drought in the inland and the lack of employment forced the couple to move to Santos, on the coast of São Paulo, where she began working as a maid for 18 years. “Whoever speaks badly of the Bolsa Família program today it’s because you think that we have short memories and don’t remember the basic basket that they sent to us during the dry season. It was that rice with the husks and old beans that I didn’t even cook in the pan. It helps, the people who live in drought have this today,” she recalls.
With some stability in employment and some savings, she managed to buy a simple house in São Vicente (also in São Paulo state) and already married, three children came. Ricardo, the eldest, now 22, took technical courses in Senai and got a job in the boiler platform of Petrobras (1) in Porto Alegre (capital city of Rio Grande do Sul). “He is happy with his chosen profession and in a big, good company. Once a month he can come here to see the family. And he comes by plane because his conditions are much better today,” she says.
Vanessa, 20, is in the third year of law school at UNIP (2) in Santos with funding from Fies (3). “Imagine the joy of a mother to know that in two years she will have a lawyer daughter!”, she is keen to stress. Even Analice’s youngest daughter, Vitória, 17, finished high school in 2013 and her score from Enem (4), she won a place in the physiotherapy course at the Federal University of Santos through Sisu (5). “We saw three, four generations working in the same family as maids. Now we don’t have this anymore. My daughters are in college. Their friends earned scholarships from Prouni (6), my nieces were able to enter Pronatec (7).” She added: “I came from extreme poverty, but in two years I’ll have a lawyer daughter, and in four more, I’ll have a physiotherapist daughter. There is no government that has done more for people than Lula and Dilma. And now with two in college, even I am thinking of going back to school.”
Source: Instituto Lula
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