By: E. Westphalen & P. Szwarc
45.6 million people in Brazil suffer from some sort of deficiency. 35 million do so from blindness, a disability that prevents you from doing the simplest of things in life. It brings out hardship in tasks that others take for granted. Blindness for some is a roof, for others it is a door to the soul. As is the case for Sid, the warm-hearted civilian that 'Projeto Mãos na Massa' is building a home for.
Now onto business. Have you ever wondered whether your R$10 donation on casual clothes day has truly made a difference? Well I certainly have. Not for the sake of the money, but for those charities that the school professes to be helping. Financial aid is one thing – vital as it may be – albeit, making your way down to a community and getting your hands dirty is an entirely different experience. And may I say, it is mutually beneficial. After participating in a couple of outings to Sid's and his family's terrain in Embu das Artes, I've felt the difference between donating a handful of money that you won't necessarily see the solid outcome and rather donating your own time, and ultimately seeing pupils pouring goodness out in the form of blood, sweat and tears (literally) to help someone in need. The great contrast here being the sense of fulfillment and gratification in meeting face to face the individual's life you are in a great way changing for good. Based on my unbiased opinion, I find this an altruistic initiative that deserves the recognition and potentially even participation from those able to spare a couple of weekend hours who will, in turn, lend a hand to those giving an arm; otherwise a generous donation will be endearingly appreciated.
If you don't believe me, take it from Paola, another volunteer who'd like to recount her "life-changing experience". For more information on how to help, feel free to take a look at the Projeto Mãos na Massa's website!
Well, my experience with Mãos Na Massa was pretty similar to Estela's. At first, I thought I was just going to a random blind guy's house to build him a proper home, but was I wrong. I know this might sound cheesy and a tad bit cliché, but it was certainly a life-changing experience. While our group was commuting our way to Embu das Artes I felt a bit nervous to meet new people and be pushed outside my comfort zone. But as soon as we arrived at Sid's house, he and his family made sure we all felt welcomed. Sid's mother explained to me how he had lost his vision, and how he has coped with it ever since. This was truly a turning point for me; I felt the obligation to do my best to help others and contribute to the society in any way I can. Even if it's not a big deal (to other people at least), just the ability of brightening someone's day by plastering their walls makes me feel that I've done something worthwhile. Sid made it clear that he was eternally grateful for our work. And I am certainly grateful for what this experience has taught me.
I genuinely believe that without my volunteering experience, I may have been a different person. Yes, it is hard, it is a lot of work, but I am positive that it is worth it. Not only do we need to understand the "societal problem" that many people face and are impacted by every single day, but we need to work alongside those whose daily realities are shaped by injustices. I hope this has given you a bigger insight on what Mãos Na Massa is about!
To find out more about his story you can listen to this interview.