“I lived in Rio for almost 5 years, and I had amazing encounters, life experiences that are so different from what we are used to in Europe. We created a pop up restaurant with a friend, which was opened once a month. It brought together French and Brasilian women around this idea of cooking, and speaking French. They were well-off people, both the French and the Brasilians. And we gave all our profits to one person we had identified. We wanted to give a large sum of money to one person rather than giving it to a non-profit without really knowing where it went.
The first person was an “empregada”, a housekeeper, who had fallen in the staircase and didn’t have any money to repair her teeth. Another was the son of the “portero” of my building who wanted to build his house in the favela. They were people that my friend or I would meet, and then we would agree on who to choose. One time there was this really crazy encounter. I was waiting for the small bus of my “portero” who would drive me back home, and a mother of about 20-21 years old comes to me with her young daughter and a medical prescription. I knew I had this sum of money I could give to anyone, so I went to the pharmacy. The pharmacist explained to me that, indeed, this little girl had lung problems, that her mother wanted the medication, but that she didn’t have the machine for it either. And so that’s how the money from a day’s restaurant was given to this woman, and she cried…
It’s like they won the lottery, because this sum of money was equivalent to 2 and a half months worth of salary. I think I’m very lucky to have what I have in life, at many levels. Of course this restaurant was a lot of work every month, we had 50 people each time. But it gives you pleasure to make people happy. I was speaking about it with a friend not so long ago, telling her: we experienced something so extraordinary that now its more difficult because… these were life and human experiences that we’ll never have again.”
(Les Pâquis | translated from French)