Mural 51 at APAE in Barbosa Ferraz, Brasil

Mural 50 was destined to be in Barbosa Ferraz, Brasil.  Geremias celebrated his fiftieth birthday during the process.  Now, I’ve tried to tell you about how magnificent this man is in the classroom.  But, perhaps it would be clearer if I let one of his students tell you his perspective in his birthday greetings. With the help of Google Translate, here goes:

Today one of the most important people in my life is having his birthday.  I thank God for having known a guy that in addition to my instructor is my friend, my companion, and my father.  On this special date, I wish you many, many years of life, that all your dreams come true, lots of love, peace, health, and may God protect you always.  I want to thank you for all that you have done, do, and I know you'll keep doing for me.  Keep being this wonderful, cheerful person who spreads joy wherever he goes.  I love you, dad! 

See, I wasn’t exaggerating.

Geremias had a surprise birthday party on a Saturday night.  I knew about it for a week.  His friends planned for it much longer, and they pulled off a successful surprise.  The next day was his actual birthday.  I sent him a message, “What?  Another birthday?  Are you now 51?”

He wasn’t.  But, he is the man behind mural 51, also in Barbosa Ferraz, at APAE.  The Association of Parents, Friends (Amigos) and Exceptional People was a huge facility on the outskirts of town that helped people with a variety of needs. There were blind, deaf, and Downs residents as well as people with walkers, wheel chairs, canes, and a whole lot of other needs.  In other words, they helped a lot of people.  Unlike the facility in Mexico where I recently painted, their people in need were residents.  I was pleased to do anything to brighten their lives.

Serious work all day long at APAE

I met with a variety of staff members for suggestions.  I thought it might be good to do my usual hidden lettering, this time with APAE.  They liked that idea.  Whew!  Inside the first letter, I wove their logo, a child in a very unusual wheelchair, and the first of three people signing “welcome”.  It was different than the previous two versions I’d done in Transnistria and Mexico.  Again, if any language should be standardized, this one gets my vote.  But, signing welcome was different in the state of Paraná from even the rest of Brazil.  Also included in the letter P was a man on a rehabilitation treadmill and a blind girl.

The second letter A included some of the subjects taught.  The list included cooking, sports, information technology, the alphabet, and art.  I was very amused by the words used to illustrate each letter.  In English the first four are usually apple, ball, cat, and dog.  In Portuguese, they were bee (abelha), ball (bola), dog (cachorro), and dice (dados).

The final letter, E, has a woman holding an infant.  The people from APAE wanted it to be very clear that they care for people of all ages, from the very young to senior citizens.  It truly is an amazing organization.

One of my favorite parts of this mural was creating it in the same community with some of the same helpers I already came to know and adore.  Students who painted at the Escola Municipal José Arno Turke School were eager to sign up for another opportunity to paint.  I was equally eager to have them again.

In addition, several of the residents, both young and old, painted on the mural. It was very important that they also had ownership in the project.  They were going to see that mural for a long time to come.  I wanted them to have pride in their work.  They did.  But, I have to say, this time it was much more moving than any other mural experience.  You’ll have to read the adventure to fully understand.

Crowded into a tight corner while painting at APAE