By Maria Danniella Gutiérrez- Salem
Translated by Jamal Fox
For the most part, dreams change based on the personality, religion, profession and even nationality of the person who dreams them. However, I noticed that those who share the privilege of being parents have one dream in common, and it is that their children have a better life than theirs. On behalf of such a dream, our interviewee from Belo Horizonte-MG Brazil came to Danbury eighteen years ago seeking a better future for her children.
In Brazil, she worked in sales but after her divorce, a friend invited her to try her luck in Danbury. Here, she found work cleaning houses, which allowed her to provide shelter, food and education for her children. Today, her children are married and independent. She has been able to start her life again with José Sousa, of Portuguese origin, with whom she has shared many moments of happiness. Above all, she describes him as a great life partner because he is always there to support her, especially since her life changed.
In November 2015, Ana suffered a terrible domestic accident when she was cleaning using chlorine. As a result of this accident, she had to undergo two operations for corneal transplants in her left eye. Sadly, the two transplants were unsuccessful, due to cornea rejection. Ana completely lost vision in her left eye. Currently, she requires a prosthesis that costs about four thousand dollars. Moreover, she still has the obligation to pay her debt for medical expenses from her previous operations, about twenty thousand dollars. It is difficult for her to pay, considering that she is not working and currently depends solely on her husband’s income. She explained that the amount owed had been even greater but that the Portuguese community in Danbury has helped her with some expenses. With great humility, she repeated to me several times how kind they were even without knowing her, and that she prefers to see all this not as a tragedy but as a learning experience. She said, “I have not been able to work for six months, but I’m very lucky because my kids have been with me, my husband has helped me in everything and people I did not know came to help me. For me, Danbury is my home, because I feel a lot of love here. We are from the place where we feel happiest and I have been very happy in Danbury. In Brazil, I left my cousins and friends behind, but not my heart or joy, for they are with me here in Danbury. I know I’ll go on, I am strong and with God’s help, I will overcome this.”
It is refreshing to meet people like Ana. Every day, we meet people who have not lost any of their senses and are completely healthy, but they lack strength. What makes such people different? I think it is the desire to overcome obstacles, and faith. Regardless of the religion we practice, we all need faith. Ana told me that she loves going to church, that she has been going for two years and that her heart rejoices every time she enters a church. She is also in constant communication with the Lord; for her, the best way to praise Him is by being happy and thankful for the miracle of being alive.
Finally, Ana’s message of life is nothing but to be grateful. Every day gives us a new opportunity, a new beginning. We must also remember that happiness is a state of mind; it is we who put limitations on our happiness. Let us begin by appreciating the good things in our lives and by overcoming adversity, with the power of knowing that we are unique.
Danniella Maria Gutierrez-Salem practiced law in Venezuela before pursuing her own American dream of becoming a writer in the United States.
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