Apenas Um Filho: The Life and Legacy of a Mad Man

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The following is a recollection of the life of Professor Valmir Silva from the Apenas Um Filho Social Project in Sao Paulo written by the brother Samambaia.

Valmir Roberto da Silva, 35 years old, I am a poor madman, who is constantly full of complexity in the social sense, I do not accept as social conditions that the State offers us and sees different ways to help people and change the sad reality of their neighborhood.

Troubled childhood: broken house and open streets

I was a kid who suffered a lot, I am the son of Dona Maria Conceição da Silva and José Carlos. My father was a major criminal in the region in the 80’s, and my mother ran away with me in my belly at the age of 24 for fear that I will follow the same path as him.

She raised me with a lot of suffering, with the same husband until I was 9, an alcoholic but hardworking guy.

When I was 9 years old my mother came to find a new relationship, but unfortunately I lived a day with my mother alone in this new story, when I got home I saw a moving truck, I got in and my mother was already taking everything out of there inside to go to a new house.

Valmir Roberto Da Silva
Valmir with his hand on the shoulder of his childhood friend playing samba

The new house was a one-room shack, it was raining a lot the day, I slept there only one day, then the guy told me I couldn’t stay. In that, my mother was already pregnant with my middle brother and I was thrown on the street.

I lived on the street from the age of 9 to 12, my mother was weak, she had no impulse to keep me there with her. First day on the street it was very punk, very scared, it was very sad, I cried a lot in the first days, walking aimlessly.

My mother’s family did not accept this situation, my grandfather was that toughest guy, he had no understanding with my mother. Then I have the street left! Sometimes I ate junk food, sometimes I didn’t.

I learned to be very light, in the sense of being smart, the favela already grows with this instinct to turn around, before I was 10 years old I was already used to that situation, São Paulo is very crazy.

Valmir Silva Apenas Um Filho Social Project
The poor madman who has been making a difference and revolution in Capão Redondo

Solidarity of the insane

But it is the madmen who share, the beggar shares what he has, man, he only has one bread and shares it with you, a blanket and shares it with you, a group that has this social vision that the government itself does not have.

When I was 12 years old, I was adopted by Dona Dalva, a businesswoman here in the neighborhood, I lived with my godmother a little before the adoption but it was a difficult time, my godmother had 10 children in the yard, I was one more, then she talked to Dona Dalva.

My life changed, I went back to school and worked with her for a long time.

Dona Dalva

When I was 16, the guy threw my mother on the street, already with his second child and I saw my mother passing by on the other side asking for things, donations, with my brothers on the side.

I asked Dona Dalva to help her, to meet the need, to be on her side, to raise my brothers … and this adoptive mother of mine said that the best choice she made was to have me as her son, you know? Nobody would do that, nobody would leave everything to go back to live with my mother, I took it and went back to live with her.

My adolescence was late, I was independent, when my stepfather took over I was ’19’, I lived alone, I was a radio host and after many fights, today this is my life, it is donated to others.

Valmir Silva Apenas um Filho Social project
Valmir’s Mother and Grandmothe

Just One Son: A Tribute to Life

Today I am an athlete, competitor for 7 years, I am Brazilian champion, tri international champion. Today I have a social project called Just a Son, we have 160 students from the Capão Redondo region, where there is not only Jiu-Jitsu but also some courses, transforming their lives into athletes, we have a class made up of women, one of children , they are all separated by classes

Just One Child Project

This has been a revolution in the neighborhood, all I went through was a way I saw helping others, along with some peripheral friends who managed to graduate.

The project was set up in honor of my brother Luís Fernando da Silva who was murdered and is part of my dream of transforming Capão.

Young Luis Fernando, Unjustly killed in a violent way

It Takes a Village: The Importance of Social Projects

The constant cases of violence in Brazil have always been a concern, but these concerns are quickly pushed to the back-burner as politics focus on the more on politics and the people.

The increasing rate at which young people are entering the world of crime is becoming more and more appalling. Crimes such as drug trafficking and theft and robbery are on the list of crimes most committed by young people of all ages, but the highest rate of offenders being between 17 and 18 years old. These kids are the kids that need more mentors like Professor Valmir in their communities. Social projects play an important role in instilling mentors in the lives of kids that are too often influenced by the negativity of their environment.

In many low-income families, a lot of kids are lead to believe that because they have few opportunities for study and employment, crime becomes the best option for the support of the family, which is why communication and family guidance is crucial to avoiding erroneous thoughts like this.

The current Brazilian legislation has socio-educational measures that are already being put in place for the re-education of these young offenders. Even so, there is a need for improvement.

According to the thinking of the philosopher John Locke, education is fundamental to the formation of someone. The role of social projects is extremely important helping change the perspective of y outh in at-risk communities.

In addition, it is up to Organs responsible bodies to intensify their forms of re-education, thus making the number of young people in the world of crime increasingly smaller.

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