Starting this philanthropy project, my plan was to do something nice for the children of Brazil. I thought that it would let the children know that there are people out there who care about them. I didn't realize the significance of what I was doing until a few days ago.
Friday night, I went with a couple of friends to Rio's Brazilian Cafe for the profit share in support of "Backpacks for Brazil." (Which by the way is going on until May 8th, and you should totally go! You should also get the pão de queijo as an appetizer. I've had a lot of cheese bread lately...and Rio's is the best.) Going to Rio's was a nice way to wind down my busy week, just sitting around with some good friends and eating great food. Obviously, that's my favorite thing to do.
The coolest thing about going to Rio's, though, was talking to the owner, Ben.
I met Ben at a meeting for a student organization that I'm a part of called International Gastronomy Society. Ben did a presentation on Brazilian food, told us a little bit about his restaurant, and brought pão de queijo for everyone. After starting "Backpacks for Brazil," I reached out to him to see if he would be interested in helping with the project. He has been nothing but supportive! Thanks Ben.
Talking to him has really motivated me to keep up my efforts, regardless of how difficult and overwhelming it seems at times. Ben was an American who lived in Brazil for 6-7 years, and he gave me a unique way of looking at childhood poverty in Brazil.
Basically, the children living in those poor communities in Brazil have nothing. Not only do they lack material things, they have no sense of ownership. They must live in confined quarters with their large families and have little to themselves. They are not entitled to the things that we, as Americans, take for granted, like personal space.
Giving a child a backpack is giving them their own domain – something that is entirely their own. Furthermore, a personal space that's meant for a higher purpose – the purpose of education – is an amazing thing to be able to give to someone. A backpack, Ben said, is a place for the children to hold their school books, their dreams, and their sense of self.
I'm now more motivated and passionate than ever about what I've started with "Backpacks for Brazil." Thank you everyone who's gotten involved for the love and support. Please keep up the efforts and thanks for helping me do something that matters.