Salvador, BRAZIL - Retired teacher
Interview made by Cyril Bruyelle in March 2017
What to say about Lenice. She’s the embodiment of joy and kindness. I met with Lenice in Salvador de Bahia. She is the mother of Sayuri, one of my couchsurfing host that I also interviewed. You’ll discover more about Lenice’s life in her answer, and here are a few words she said when I asked her Who are you? “My name is Lenice, I'm 73 years old, I used to work in education, for children and adults. I worked with low-income communities, in slums, very violent places, sons and daughters of excluded people. I also worked with well-educated children. I’ve worked in schools as a teacher and I had the chance to be a school director. Without knowing it, I was making the children's dreams come true, as well as their parents' dreams. I've lived most of my time in Salvador, but I moved a lot with my husband who used to work in other states. In each new place, I tried to study a bit more, to learn and to get to know the reality of the region. I earned very little money working in education, but my husband earned more and maintained the whole family.”
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to sing, always sing. I wasn't a good singer. People thought the rhythm was bad, but I always kept singing.
If you could choose something that could be taught in every school in the world, what would it be?
It would always be to do good and respect other people, always taking care of other people's health, the mental and physical health. Showing love to other people is very important and that people love each other. No violence, only love.
To you, what’s that main characteristic that all human being have in common?
Every human being has something bad and good in them, but they have to develop themselves. Kids who are raised in a good environment become very good adults. If they are raised in a bad environment, they become bad adults. And it also depends on the company they have, their traditions and beliefs. People who have faith and who believe in God, they have God above everything else, because God was and is good for everyone. People just have to understand that and learn from that. Choosing the bad side or the good side, they should learn to love the good things. What people lack sometimes are opportunities. Sometimes they are good, but it is not developed.
To you, who is the happiest person on earth?
It's the person that loves himself/herself, who believes in his/her strength, in his/her potential. Above all, those people have to be happy with themselves in order to be happy with other people and the world. For happy people, everything is good. If it's simple, it's good. If it's very chic, it's good. If they have a lot of money, it's good. If they don't have a lot of money, they live with what they have, a good life, and they manage to be very happy.
If you were President of the US, what would your first reform be?
Well, the health care reform of the people, the reform for peace, the reform to avoid the bloodshed. Violence causes more violence. We always have to preach about peace, dialogue is always important.
What would you do if we gave you 1 million dollars now?
One million dollars? First, I'd buy an apartment for Saiuri. Then, I'd buy something I'd need, just a few new things. And I have a family who needs help. And also I'd give a part to help in children's education.
What’s the news that affects you the most in your country these days?
Violence. Nowadays, people lock their doors, are afraid of going outside, afraid of other people, even afraid of children. Everyone lives in enclosed spaces with bars, like a prison. This is terrible. My childhood was very free, because there was belief and trust in others.
Do you think your life is easier or more complicated than the life of your parents?
I believe that, in some aspects, I live better. In other aspects, I live worse. My parents didn't have money, didn't study, because they had to start working early, and they had a free life to go around during the day or at night without any problems. Today I have the comfort of life, the comfort of having, the comfort of going to the market and buy what we want. My parents only bought what they could. I was lucky to have a husband who had a very rich culture. So, we joined my joy to his culture. He was shy and quiet, but read a lot of newspapers and books, many things. I didn't have those things in my childhood, an intellectual childhood. So I lived 40 years with him and I learned a lot and then I taught my children. Today, all of them have culture, they like cultural things, they are well prepared, they work very well. This for me is happiness. I'd like to have many children, but it wasn't possible. But the ones I had (only three), thank God I'm very happy.
If you had to create a company, what would it be?
It would be something related to people's leisure, something related to music, to leisure, because, in terms of health, people need to be entertained.
Can you draw something beautiful?
Can you sing something beautiful?
Can I sing? Wait a second…
Seize the day, because there is only one life. Tomorrow who knows if it's better or worse? Let it run freely because thinking about it is not good. Brás is the treasurer and life is fiesta, always a Carnival. Brás is the treasurer and life is fiesta, always a Carnival.
What are you afraid of?
I'm afraid of being alone in life. I like people, I like being with my friends, I like having a good conversation, it makes me feel good.
What is your dream?
My biggest dream is to be always with my family, with my friends, and that we are all happy. I just want everybody to be happy.
What is the most beautiful thing that you’ve seen in your life?
The innocence, the honesty, the truth of children. They always say what they feel. They like us the way we are, whether we are well or badly dressed, the child likes the person.
Who is God for you?
God is inside of us. He is our power, our strength, our thought that, if we believe, it will happen, I'm going to achieve that very well.
Which of your country's cultural specificities are you the proudest of?
It's everybody's joy and honesty. Many people don't have much money, don't have many things, but, if it's somebody's anniversary, let's have a party, they dance as if life was wonderful, even though they live making a lot of sacrifices. But they manage to pass on their inner joy. And this is a beautiful thing.
If you could do any job regardless of money, what would it be ?
Helping people mainly in terms of education. It's also about helping not only the children, but also their parents, so that they could raise their children in a better way. Many people don't give a good education to their children because they don't know how to pass things on, they didn't have the opportunity. We lack good education at home.
If you had to explain our planet to an alien, what would you say ?
Here, we have a lot of trouble, we have violence, we have happiness, honest and dishonest people, here you must learn how to live and understand other people. But it's very good, we are happy.
And you, which question would you like to ask to the world?
How to end with violence ?