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Wednesday’s Wise Woman … Carolina Maria de Jesus

March 20, 2013

I take the liberty to reflect back to an earlier Wise Woman post; when I began my love affair with Brazil.  In particular Babilonia;  a favela that kisses Leme beach and a mere saunter from Copacabana.  So you see, already it has some glorious attributes. However like all relationships the characters involved have baggage and issues not always discussed during lovemaking.

Carolina Maria de Jesus was an earlier inhabitant of a favela in Sao Paulo. Not unlike this one in Rio originally built for the soldiers and their families as they returned from the insurrections and wars of the late 18th and 19th century. The favelas later became the homes for migrant workers in the growing capital of Brazil.

It was then that Carolina moved to the favela. As a single parent, she collected and salvaged garbage to sell and make a meagre living for her family. Caroline was not destined for such a life.  She had enjoyed an education at a time when girls were not encouraged to learn.  But now she lived a life of squalor and disrepair, but she was able to write a diary about the state of affairs and find find fame for a while.

Sadly the bonhomie was short lived and she died back at the favela destitute and alone.

My daughter and I have collected several editions of Carolina’s books between us. This one is the latest addition; a rather shabby but a delight found in a flea market in Rio.

So Carolina’s memory lives on in two little libraries one in a favela where it should be and the other in the UK where Carolina’s existence and those like her go unnoticed.

 Images from Quarto de Despejo : diario de uma fevalada by Carolina Maria de Jesus.

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