I have been thinking whether now is the right time to challenge myself and start to share my experiences in English. For over ten years I’ve been writing in Portuguese and Italian to the escrevoLogoexisto.com (I write, therefore I am) audience and now I feel comfortable to amplify the range of potential readers.
Firstly, I must say that writing has been a way to not keep my existence with me. It is a tool to share and not to promote myself. It is also a sort of auto-therapy. Every time I look back I realise how different I was and how much I’ve learnt through the experiences I lived. So, let’s do it.
Being in contact with different cultures is one of my passions. It is not a coincidence that my wife is not Brazilian and I had lived, for long or short periods of time, in countries on four different continents. As a result of these experiences, I met a wide range of people that made me realise how incredible the world is.
My life changing experience happened in 2005, in Indonesia. I stayed in Sumatra island for 29 days with a group of youth visiting projects in response to the tragic Tsunami that hit South East Asia six months before I was there.
Every time I share this experience a striking moment comes into my mind. We have just arrived in Aceh, the closest city of the earthquake’s epicentre, and an old man came to us saying that he would like to share his story. “I had to leave Aceh for one week to buy some stuff for my family. When I went back, my town was hit by the Tsunami. I run to see whether my family was safe, but no one was there anymore. All my close family, my extended family, my neighbours, my boss, my work colleagues, everyone was gone. I lost everything. In my neighbourhood with a few hundreds of inhabitants, only 30 people survived”.
I have been spared from close contact with real pain until that moment. However, listening to peoples stories made me understand the real value of empathy. I didn’t have to find solutions when there was nothing to change. I only needed to be there, silent, and (sometimes) cry together.
My presence in Indonesia, so far away from my homeland, triggered many smiles from those who were suffering. “Are you Brazilian? Why are you here?”. I just wanted to be there with them. It was the first opportunity I had to feel that, despite borders, walls, distances, we can be brothers and sisters.