When my first son was born 20 years ago we lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was there that for the first time I hired someone to help me with the house work and my baby boy.

Jocelia was her name. She came from the Northeast of Brazil, Bahia, and was a little younger than I was. I was 24 and she was about 20.
I loved her as soon as she stepped in my home. She looked at me and was never afraid to say what she was thinking, but she was loving, trustworthy, a great cook, and she loved my son. So she stayed with us for a while.

My helper didn’t have a good education. She knew how to read and write, but not with proficiency; however, she was incredibly smart and equally stubborn.

I wanted her to go to school. I wanted her to go to the dentist when she needed. I wanted so many things for her as if she were my daughter or my sister. Inside of her there was this gem waiting to be polished, full of innocence and goodness. I tried to convince her that what I wanted for her was best, but I failed. I failed because her life was hers, her story I didn’t know, her beliefs and preconceptions I didn’t know.

What I know now is that we touch each other’s lives by being the best we can be, giving unconditional love to all, and respecting each other’s choices. Maybe then others can become inspired to be the best that they can be, on their own terms and at their own pace, tracing their own path and rewriting their own story.

Unconditional love must come first and foremost to our own selves and from there it will be much easier to open up our hearts to others and to the world.

Last time I saw Jocelia I was still living in Brazil. She was living in a shantytown with a baby girl and had a few teeth missing on her beautiful smile. I love her so and forever will.