You never quite know who you might meet on any given day. Potentially, anyone you pass along the street can harbor an incredible story. And sometimes, the most neglected and marginalized among us can secretly be amazing people with deep lives, powerful passions and profound insights.
Shalla Monteiro, a woman living in Sao Paolo, Brazil, discovered that in a most extraordinary way back in 2011.
A Homeless Man With a Profound Soul
Every day, Monteiro would pass by a street which contained a highly unusual and eye-catching sight. Off the side of the road, in a patch of grass, a homeless man, surrounded by his tent and other belongings, would often be found sitting underneath a tree, lost deeply in thought.
This fascinated Monetiro, but she dared not approach or speak to the man at first. The awkwardness was too much.
Still, she felt that there was something special about him, and she eventually worked up the courage to approach him with an open mind and an open heart. She began speaking to him and eventually, the two developed a rapport, speaking every day and becoming friends.
She learned that the homeless man’s name was Raimundo Arruda Sobrinho and that he had been homeless for about three decades.
In the 1970s, when Sobrinho was in his 40s, he became homeless. He had remained so until the day he and Monetiro met. But there was a much deeper aspect to his story.
Often, Monteiro would notice Sobrinho either lost in thought or writing. She learned that Sobrinho had long harbored the desire to be a writer and to publish a book of his works. Because he was homeless, the fulfillment of this dream was denied to him, but he kept writing nevertheless.
Her heart bursting with pity and compassion, she decided to start a blog and a Facebook page through which Sobrinho could share his work with the world. He would often sign his work Ocondicionado — Portuguese for the Conditioned. With time, Sobrinho’s moving poetry attracted a following, and he became a sensation.
More and more people began approaching him on the street, having heard who he was and being deeply curious to meet him.
But one day, Monteiro would receive a Facebook message from a man that would shock her.
The man claimed to be Sobrinho’s brother from whom he had been separated for the last 57 years. Thanks to social media, the brothers were able to have a tearful reunion, and Sobrinho was once again welcomed into the fold of his family. He now had a place to live.
Not only this, but in 2015, Sobrinho’s most cherished dream at long last came true. He was able to publish his poetry in book form, and the book became a sensation in Brazil.
In late 2020, Sobrinho finally died at the age of 82, a happy man surrounded by his friends and family and having finally achieved his literary ambitions.
And it all happened because one day Shalla Monteiro decided to open her heart and take a chance talking to a homeless man.