The personal trajectory of Gilberto Mendes and Ramacrisna are intertwined. He was only 14 years old when he first benefited from the organization. This happened five years after an accident that made him permanently move to the Institute.
Today, as an adult, he continues to be part of Ramacrisna: he is part of the Deliberative Council that directs the Institute, at the invitation of Professor Arlindo Corrêa da Silva, founder of Ramacrisna.
Next, you know this story.
At the age of nine, Gilberto was working in a coal oven in the city of Felixlândia, in the central region of Minas Gerais, when he had an accident on an electrical transmission line. He lost an arm and a leg, in addition to having spent five years in a hospital in Belo Horizonte, where he was discredited by doctors.
But he resisted and, when he was discharged, the family realized that, because he had a disability, he would not be able to live in the rural area. Then, upon learning the story, Professor Arlindo Corrêa da Silva invited him to live in the then Ramacrisna Mission..
Gilberto was one of the 70 boys who lived there, received food and education. In addition to his studies, he did yoga and meditation. Over time, he began to perform tasks within Ramacrisna, such as sweeping sidewalks and taking care of the storeroom.
“Professor Arlindo encouraged me, he saw my ability. And I was able to develop at the Institute. Today, I see that in those moments when I had these tasks, I was being prepared for the labor market processes that I would face”, he recalls. Over the years, Gilberto became responsible for the pasta factory.
The desire to work was so strong that he even wanted to give up his studies at the age of 16. But advice he received from Ramacrisna vice president Solange Bottaro changed his mind. “She asked me what I was going to do if I stopped studying, how I was going to work if I didn’t have a foundation. And, if I had stopped, I would not have taken the exam and would have passed”, he points out. Gilberto passed a CEMIG contest, where he worked for several years until he retired.
Gilberto was already a grown man, he had his home, his job and he decided it was time to start a family. So, he married Raquel and had two children: Octávio and Taíssa. The two participated in several Ramacrisna projects. And, to this day, the family is part of the Ramacrisna family: Octávio is the manager of the Fences Ramacrisna factory.
But that’s not all: since the 1990s, Gilberto has been a member of the Deliberative Council. The group was chosen by professor Arlindo to take care of Ramacrisna and guarantee the continuity of the project. “He asked me: ‘As long as you live, keep the Institute focused on doing good and helping people.’ And that’s what I’m going to do”, he says.
Today, more than looking at his own path, Gilberto lives up to Ramacrisna’s mission. “The heart fills with joy to see that Professor Arlindo was an idealist and dreamer. He already foresaw the growth of Ramacrisna, so much so that he set up the Council to follow the work. He already knew he was going to turn that power. It is a great joy to be part of this family, a return for everything that the institute did for me one day, I have to keep opening doors for people”, he points out.
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