For the first time I was in a classroom. I learned to read and write, learned to speak properly and learned the mason profession. I started to think differently. I was structuring my career.
At the age of eighteen, Geraldo José da Silva was offered a job cutting cane in a mill in Mato Grosso. The man recruiting him told him he would receive a good salary with a formal contract, medical care and food. To a young man who grew up tilling the soil to help his family survive, it was an attractive offer. But it was a lie. Instead, for fourteen years, Geraldo endured life in forced labor, marked by abuses, debt bondage, degrading working conditions and exhausting journeys. After he was rescued by labor inspectors, he joined the Integrated Action Program, supported by ILAB through a project conducted by the International Labor Organization. He received an education, including vocational training to help him find opportunities for dignified work. Before long, he was offered a job in construction of the soccer stadium in the state of Mato Grosso, built especially for the World Cup. "For the first time I was in a classroom; I learned to read and write, learned to speak properly and learned the mason profession," he said. "I started to think differently. I was structuring my career." Now, he wants to achieve more, to continue evolving and learning. No longer toiling in the sugarcane fields, he now keeps his own organic garden. It has been a long journey for Geraldo, but he believes that nothing in the world is impossible; it just depends on willpower and opportunities.