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“People who see us from the outside think that our greatest struggle is the disability. It’s not. Our greatest struggle is that we’d fallen out of love with each other. I lost a lot of my independence when Tatiana was born. I fell into a depression. He was working a lot. We grew distant. I didn’t think I could ever love him again. Two years ago I prayed one night, and said: ‘God, you’ve done so much. Please grant me one more miracle and make me love him again.’ The first change came from me. He’s always been the easygoing one, so I had to change first. I started trusting more. I tried to be more forgiving and understanding. I started to cook for him and organize things around the house. And he started spending more time at home. We started enjoying each other’s company. We talked about things other than diseases. And we started going out together-- just like this. It was like I suddenly met a friend, who became my best friend, who became my love. And our life started over again.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
“She has autonomy. She has a strong will. But she can’t move. So in many ways her life is my life. It’s bigger than me, it controls me, and it makes me fight like never before. We spend so much time together that she’s a part of me. She knows how important she is to me. She had childhood cancer. Her heart failed three times. And I was by her side the entire time. I never realized that I could love someone as much as this. She could never hurt me. She could never hurt anyone. We always ask her: ‘Are you angry?’, ‘Are you mad?’ And she always says ‘no.’ She laughs when I laugh. And right now I’m trying not to cry. Because she'll cry if I cry.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
“I want to grow up and be like my mom because I really like her. But that’s going to take such a long time. Because it took me so long to turn five. And even longer to turn six. So it must have taken her so long to grow up.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
“For Heloisa, every elderly person feels like a grandparent. And she loves her grandparents. So I asked her if she wanted to have her sixth birthday party at a home for the elderly. She loved the idea. So I contacted a local home and planned everything with the coordinator. We sent invitations to the family members of all the residents. I'm a photographer, so I went a few days early and took nice portraits of all the residents. On the day of the party, I printed out the photographs and brought them as gifts for their family members. We did games and activities. There was so much joy. Everyone had such big smiles. The residents were crying. Their families were crying. I was crying. I think Heloisa will remember the experience forever. Afterward, her school friends came home with us and we had an old-fashioned pajama party.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
“I’ve got it all figured out. Just let time go by and try not to think about very much." (São Paulo, Brazil)
“I was voted the first in my pack! Everybody got one vote, except for me, because another girl decided to vote for me. I need to show up early now because I’m in charge of making sure that everyone arrives!” (São Paulo, Brazil)
“The cocaine made me feel important. I thought I was always right. I was fighting a lot of people. I was cheating on my wife. I felt like I had superpowers. I was hiding my addiction from everybody. Nobody knew I was using until I had a breakdown. I stayed up doing coke for three days, and became convinced that the television was speaking to me. I tried to get through the front door of the largest television station in Brazil-- screaming that I was Jesus. They put me in a clinic for eighteen days. That was three years ago. I don’t mind talking about it. I’m embarrassed by it, but it happened. And it caused me to get clean. It was humiliating, but it’s also the reason I’m able to sit on this bench-- calm, relaxed, and not thinking about drugs.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
“When I started being a father, I wasn’t ready. Things are great now but I struggled with substance abuse for a long time. I have three older children and I wasn’t very present with them. I’m fifty-one now and this is my last chance. So I’m trying to do my best with this one. He’s my little baby. Thankfully I’m good friends with his mother so I’m able to see him every day. But I’ve never lived with him. I don’t wake him up in the morning or help him get ready for school. I hear my other friends talking about these things and I just hate it. It makes me feel so guilty. But I’m doing my best. It’s not the best. But it’s my best.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
“My father left us when I was two. The last time I saw him was my fifth grade graduation. I do know he’s alive because I found him on Facebook. Apparently he drinks a lot and goes to left wing protests. I’m not bothered by it. I think it’s funny. Sometimes I hope he comes looking for me just so I can turn him away. I did find an old journal recently from my childhood. It had The Powerpuff Girls on the cover. Inside were some pages where I had been practicing cursive, and I had written things like: ‘Why don’t you call me?’ and ‘Why don’t you like me?’ So it clearly bothered me then. Even though I don’t care now, maybe it’s impacted me in a way that I’ve yet to discover.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
“I’ve been doing construction since I was fifteen. I like what I do and I do what I like. Every night when I’m heading home, I always look back to see what I’ve built. It gives me a great sense of joy. A few years ago I built a children’s park not far from here, and when they finally opened the gates, and all the children came running in, I started to cry.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
Today in microfashion... (São Paulo, Brazil)
“Both of us are widowers. We met last year at a dance for seniors. He treats me so much better than my husband ever did. My husband treated me like a stray dog. He used to beat me. He’d get angry, and yell, and break things. He’d always say that I’d never meet someone else. But this man is different. He always tells me that he loves me. He always wants to be with me. He makes me feel like a princess.” (São Paulo, Brazil)
“He didn’t begin speaking until the age of seven. He used to hide everywhere. I’d scream for him but he wouldn’t respond to anything. Once when he was three years old, one of his uncles came into the house wearing a baseball cap to the side. He started screaming and I couldn’t calm him. I couldn’t even get him to look me in the eye. But eventually I tried pulling the cap to the front, and he fell completely silent. I brought him back to his room to calm down. And when i walked in a few minutes later, he had built an amazing castle out of playing cards.” (Cordoba, Argentina)
“I was raised in a non-religious family, but certain experiences in life have caused me to connect with something that I can’t explain. Those experiences are like my paintings. The more I try to describe them, the more they lose their meaning." (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
“She was my first crush as a kid. We were in the same class together, and she sat by the window, so I’d always pretend that I was staring at the tree outside. But I never had the courage to talk to her. I was extremely shy. Then over the summer I went to her twelfth birthday party at a water park. She walked up to me with her entourage of friends, and said: ‘I liked you all year. But you never talked to me. And now I’m going to another school and you’re never going to see me again!’ I was so scared that I couldn’t talk. That moment was such a small thing for her-- she doesn’t even remember it. But I was completely traumatized.” (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
"I knew it would be a girl. I had a dream that I was holding a girl." (Bariloche, Argentina)
“I grew up in a rural town. I was the only girl in the family. Being a girl back then represented a lot of ‘no’s.’ I wanted to study English, the answer was ‘no.’ I wanted to play guitar, the answer was ‘no.’ I wanted to date a boy, the answer was ‘no.’ I felt like there was a barrier separating me from life. The only thing my family wanted for me was to graduate high school, get married, become a teacher, and spend every Sunday with them. So I stayed. And I got pregnant at twenty-five. But my child died during birth. I felt completely drowned. I don’t even remember the passing of time. I lost an entire year of my life. But I eventually reached a moment where I knew that my only chance was to make a major change. And I finally left that town.” (Rosario, Argentina)
“My brother shot himself last November. He always viewed himself as my superior. He’d never come to my door when he visited. He’d always wait in the car for me to come out. He had more money, more lovers, more everything. But he was always searching for more. He was never satisfied. My brother was a character. He was a successful character, but he was a character. And that character ended up eating him.” (Cordoba, Argentina)