Douglas Henrique da Silva is an eighteen years old who lives in Felixândia, a small rural town in Minas Gerais, Brazil. He is studious and is working hard like so many school students of his age to pass the exams necessary to be able to enter university to study law.
He says he wants to study law as it is “a way to help people and to fight for a more just and humane society”.
I wanted to share Douglas’ story as this alone is a positive example of how young people are seeing inequality in society and wish to change things. The reason I know about him is that he has been featured in the news this week in Brazil and I was particularly impressed with his attitude and the way in which he gracefully articulated his dreams.
The reason that Douglas has been in the news is that he has a rare form of dwarfism meaning that he is just 80 centimetres tall and both he and his mother have been working together to overcome the many challenges they both face in their daily lives to make his dream come true.
In order to reach his school, Douglas’ mother, Maria da Conceição, cycles three kilometres on a dirt road to reach their bus stop. She then puts the bike on the bus and travels with Douglas to Curvelo where his school is. She then carries him from the bus to the school. Despite many people saying that this would not work when she registered him for infant school, she has kept going and stayed at the school to help Douglas with those physical activities in which he has limitations.
The challenges have been immense, with Douglas facing much verbal bullying, and also suffering from the theft of his bicycle. When the local community discovered this, two military police officers and a business owner worked together to fund a new one to allow him to continue attending school.
When I heard Douglas being interviewed on the news last night it was quite amazing to hear him talk. He says that “limits are what people place on ourselves” and that behind is determination and dreams are “focus and faith”.
“When people are abusive, many others want to help, and this is the most surprising thing” he observes.
Douglas is one of the greatest examples of the way in which determination and his attitude, alone with that of his mother and also those in his community can make a difference no matter what the external circumstances may be.
This article was written with the help of this news report from Globo.com: Mãe pedalou mais de 6 mil km para realizar sonho do filho com nanismo