I used to watch documentaries about Brazil before coming here, and I used to say to myself, ‘I have to go and live there’. It was my dream country. For a long time, I followed Brazilian telenovelas. I saw the beaches, the nature – I like nature so much and Brazil has the largest forest in the world. We have the second one in Congo, the equatorial forest. So, I said to myself that I have to go and explore this forest. I prefer not to talk about the political context in my country.
I was well received when I arrived at the airport. The Brazilians welcomed me, despite that fact that I did not know the language and, even though I spoke a little English, it was really difficult to interact. I couldn’t understand when someone was talking to me, so I just stayed there watching people talking and I didn't understand anything. It was not easy. I was very dependent on my phone to do translate and do everything else. If I had an appointment somewhere I had to use Google Maps. If I was on the bus and wanted to get off, but the door was closed, I couldn’t get off because I didn’t know what to say to the driver. Sometimes, someone sees you and speaks for you. But the language is really a big obstacle for anyone’s freedom.
I came to Brazil to integrate myself, to gain some knowledge from the outside world.
And you feel bad. You are smart, you know what to do, you know what you want, but the language does not allow you to be you. You want to say things, but you don't know what to say despite having too many ideas in your mind. And then you are not considered by people. I enrolled myself in a language school where I studied for one month. I started to learn, but I couldn’t understand – it is very difficult. I would say to myself, ‘but this is basic conjugation and literacy. I am like a child, back in kindergarten.’ I knew Latin, and Latin is almost like Portuguese – it is the mother of the language – so I understood some words. It took almost three months of language lessons before I began to improve.
When I left my country, I left a lot of things behind. But, before I started to regret my decision, I always said to myself , ‘I'm going to fit in here, little by little.’ I finished university in 2015. I had graduated in Latin Philosophy in 2010 and at university I took politics and administrative political science. But, with the politics of our country, I ran the risk of getting killed working as political scientist, so I changed to business and administration in the end. I did an internship at the Ministry of Relations in 2015 and, after my experience with how things worked there, I decided to leave.
I forgot to take my diplomas with me when I left for Brazil. I contacted my parents so they could send them to me, as I plan to study here. I like to study and discover new things. If God helps I will redo my studies. We have a lot of intelligent women in Congo, but we lack the means to study and do things there. I came to Brazil to integrate myself, to gain some knowledge from the outside world. Knowing how Brazil works, seeing that there are Brazilian women in administrative and political positions here, it’s educational. I want us to have equality back home, so that people can do things for reasons other than because they are a man, or because of their names or families. So, if I am ever able to go back to my country, I will seek equality for women. There are many intelligent women there who need opportunity.
V. A., One year in Brazil
This series has been financially supported by Humanity United.