By Maria Danniella Gutiérrez- Salem
Foreign Lawyer – Venezuela
Sometimes, dreams begin with the desire to change our lives. Our interviewee was born in the Republic of Angola, a country in southern Africa. It is important to clarify that the Portuguese have settled in Angola since the sixteenth century, and it became a colony in the 1920s. It was not until 1975 that the country obtained its independence from Portugal. Luis was one of the many Portuguese descendants who, by fate or because of their father’s trade, were born in Angola.
A place that for some may sound far away from civilization, Luis lived there for the first eleven years of his life. It was magical and he has not forgotten it. Luis loves nature and culture. His father worked in railway construction and when they returned to Lisbon, Portugal, he kept on with this type of work but focused on the construction of subway tracks.
While in Portugal, Luis studied until he graduated from high school. He married very young and had his first child, for whom he assumed great responsibility. He started working in one of the largest corporations in Portugal, in the cleaning and security areas. He soon showed a keen interest to succeed at work. He was dedicated, responsible and committed, and his rise was meteoric, developing a successful career within the company.
However, he wanted to come to America to learn English, so he tried to quit several times and do so, but his supervisors persuaded him to wait a little longer. However, life, in one way or another, drives us to seek our destiny. Luis faced a complicated and painful divorce. So, twenty-five years ago, he finally decided to come to America.
Once in Danbury, he realized that his future and his son’s future had to be created in the United States. So once he was established, his son came to live with him. Today, his son has a successful career in game design and lives in Baltimore. Luis joyfully told me that he has two other children, as a result of his marriage with Delfina Batista, who is an American of Portuguese origin. His face visibly changed when he told me about his new wife, saying, “She is a woman full of life, honesty and understanding, who managed to bring out the best in me.” I loved seeing so much love for a woman in a man. They are truly lucky to have found each other.
As for his working life, Luis decided to start a business in Danbury with the skills he had learned in his previous career. Now, he owns a company that provides cleaning services to both homes and businesses. According to him, nowadays, both husband and wife must go to work, sometimes even to other cities, so it is difficult to do all the household chores. He finds it nice for people to get back from work and find everything clean and in order, trusting that they have received responsible service. It is also important for him to provide employment opportunities to people who, like him, decided to undertake the adventure of living in another country. However, he wants to go beyond just paying a salary, so he will implement a plan to contribute to his employees’ retirement.
He mentioned that he is part of the “Master Networks” group, which brings together entrepreneurs like him with the main objective is to improve professionally. He clarified that, although it is not a formal academy, they study different types of topics that are then applied in their businesses. This activity allows them to connect with other members, providing new business opportunities. Part of this strategic alliance entails referring clients that seek the services each of them provides, assuring them that they will receive proper and professional treatment from the group members, who embrace values such as honesty, responsibility, respect and innovation. Luis says that this group has provided him the opportunity to expand his business, for now he has a clearer vision and mission, stating, “Opportunities are to be taken.”
Let me conclude with Luis’ message for life: Sometimes, we feel unfortunate for the things that happen to us, for we anticipate and think they are bad, and forget that life is full of many episodes. The definition of our lives is not found behind an event like a divorce, but in our actions and decisions. There is a world full of opportunities that awaits us. Follow Luis’ example and continue on, until you succeed!
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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