Vendor Profile: Nelson Carvalho
Nelson Carvalho, 43, is a street vendor for Aurora de Rua in Salvador, Brazil.
“My foot was injured. I asked some friends where I could get help, get it dressed, and they told me about the Comunidade da Trinidade (Community Trinidad). It was just before Christmas. But my injured foot was not my biggest problem. I had already been on the streets for two years. My drug addiction had brought me to this point. It was a very difficult time. I am the father of six children, and my two-year condition really affected my relationship with them. Every time I tried to get close to them I ended up causing more problems. My relationship with my family got worse, and I saw leaving to go onto the streets as the only alternative, so I could stop affecting those I loved.
“I saw many bad things on the streets, but I also met people who, just like me, wanted to change the course of their lives. The fight against drug addiction is cruel. Sometimes it’s like being in a prison. A person needs lots of willpower to not go back to it. I relapsed several times on the road to freedom. The relapses mean I had to find new places to live.
“I ran away from resolving my situation and also consequently from myself. One of things that troubled me most was being deprived of the company of my children. I only saw them from afar; I didn’t go up to them. This feeling was what drove me to make the decision to change my life.
“At the Comunidade, I glimpsed the possibility of a new start. I had a different kind of refuge, where I felt respected, and was in the company of people who wanted to see me get well. And while I was there I found out about the work of Aurora da Rua (Aurora Street).
“At first, I saw an opportunity to support myself by selling it. I needed money to help my children, to fulfill my fatherly duties in a dignified way. At that point I didn’t feel ready to take on a formal job. I needed to heal my injured soul. I was in no hurry to get a job; I was learning to be patient and wait. Everything happens at the right time.
“Beyond giving me an income, the newspaper opened other avenues for me. As well as selling at churches, fairs, events and colleges, I have the opportunity to share my experiences with other people and show them that people on the streets are human like everyone else. Sharing like this reinforces the message Aurora da Rua is sending. In the newspaper, someone living on the streets is portrayed with dignity and humanity. This changes the way society sees those on the streets. Wherever I go today, I am well received and any time I talk to anyone who is still on the streets, I try to instill this message of hope and faith for better days. Persistence and willpower are enough.”
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