Social media gets a lot of flack for turning people into mindless zombies who stare at their devices all day. And there’s some truth to that, nut the internet’s power can also be used in a positive way.
It actually helped a homeless poet get his work recognized, get off the streets, and reconnect with his family.
Like many artistic people, Raimundo Arruda Sobrinho wanted to spend his days creating. So much so that Sobrinho eventually became homeless and spent 35 years living on the streets.
Every day he would sit outside in rags with a piece of plastic that he used as a shelter.
He would sit and write poems and short stories all day long.
“Raimundo was born on Aug.1 1938, in rural Goiás. He arrived in São Paulo at the age of 23. He was a gardener and bookseller. He has been a street resident since 79′, in the same place for 18 years,” his Facebook page explains. “Dressed in black garbage bags, he sleeps underneath other sacks that he has hand-stitched until he makes a ‘hut.'”
He always wished that he could share his words with someone else and one day be published. One day in 2011, he met a woman named Shalla Monteiro. She was taken aback by how beautiful his poetry was.
He did, after all, have a lot of time to get good at it.
Sobrinho gave Monteiro one of his poems and she decided to post it on Facebook so she could share it with the world.
Finally, his dream had come true, he had finally been published. Monterio was so impressed with Sobrinho’s work that she created a Facebook page for him that was dedicated to his work.
Word soon spread about Sobrinho’s talents.
“Raimundo is an incredible person, who makes me see the world with his eyes, from an unimaginable perspective!” Monterio wrote on the Facebook page. “I hope to share a little bit of Raimundo and with that to be able to divulge his poem, which according to him, until today were not recognized.”
He had more than 100,000 followers and locals began bringing him gifts. Among his fans emerged Sobrinho’s family.
His long-lost brother saw him on Facebook and asked Sobrinho to move in with him.
“After 57-years, I was able to find you. When I arrived on the island, I found a man in the midst of garbage. Hairy and unshaven with no hygiene whatsoever, knowing this man was my brother,” Sobrinho’s brother said emotionally. “I suggested he come live with me. My brothers are still alive. They’re all alive. He was the one missing to complete the emptiness we had.”
Sobrinho has since gone through a massive transformation. The now 80-year-old cut his hair and has clean clothes and can be found working in the garden.
His story was so amazing that it was even the subject of a short film documentary by filmmaker Michael Marantz called “The Conditioned.”
It focuses on the power of social media and Sobrinho’s journey from the streets to making his dream of being publishing come true.
Not only was he published on Facebook but an entire book of his work has been published.
“Hope is the heaviest weight a man can carry,” Sobrinho once wrote.
Hopefully, it was worth the weight. You can see the film below.
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