Brazil is famous for its carnival, love of soccer, and Christ the Redeemer statue. But it is also home to Raimundo Arrudo Sobrinho, a 77-year-old homeless man whose favorite pastime activity is writing poetry and short stories.
Raimundo had high hopes when he left the countryside to Sao Paulo, Brazil’s financial nerve and most populous city, at age 23. But fate had other plans. The late ‘70s signaled a transition for Brazil after the remarkable growth of the late 1960s to early 1970s. The transition culminated in the economic lull of the ‘80s (commonly known as the “lost decade”) characterized by recession, stagnation, high inflation, and their attendant deleterious economic effects.
Raimundo who was a book dealer and gardener became homeless during this period. In spite of his grim situation, he continued to indulge in his passion for the written word, and he consistently scribbled poetry and stories on tatty pieces of paper he held onto tightly.
And while much of the public maintained their distance, he came upon a woman named Shalla who found his note-taking habits curious. She inquired to know what he was up to. And Raimundo gifted Shalla a poem that she found astonishing.
She created a Facebook page to share his work with fellow netizens. The page that has now exceeded 100,000 followers was the catalyst for good things to come. Many who read his writings tried to get across to him and offer gifts and encouragement.
Even better, the page helped him connect with his missing brother (who was a follower of the page), who invited Raimundo to move into his home: Thus ending a 35-year long sojourn on the streets. Words truly are powerful. And in Raimundo’s case, powerful enough to improve his standard of living exponentially and reunite him with his long-lost brother.
A documentary titled The Conditioned was made about Raimundo’s travails. Watch it below.