By Ueslei Marcelino
I phoned Sueli yesterday to give her the good news.
“Mrs. Sueli. The government just announced that it will increase the minimum wage in January!”
With the same lively voice she spoke with when I visited her a few days earlier, she responded, “Child, that’s a great thing. Maybe there will be a little extra money now to buy some meat?”
According to her ID card, Sueli Paes Alecrin is 48 years old, but her eyes reveal that she is older, much older. She is a single mother to her sons Alessandro, 16, and Alex, 15, and her daughter Amanda, 11. Amanda was born with cerebral palsy.
The family lives in a simple house with no luxuries but with humility, joy, and harmony. I met Sueli through a friend, and witnessed first hand the sacrifice that she makes to run a home with two teenagers and a little princess who requires daily medical care, all with just an income equal to the monthly minimum wage of $294. I should say, minimum wage plus a miracle.
Sueli, who can’t work because she can’t afford to pay someone to care for Amanda, receives a welfare check equal to minimum wage for her daughter’s illness.