“The house-cleaner Raimunda da Silva Gonçalves, 46 years old, is the stereotype of a portion of the Brazilian population that started searching for a better life more than 5 decades ago. She, like millions others, migrated from a poor northeastern city in the beginning of the 80’s in search of better luck in the richness of the São Paulo chaos. She arrived without a defined occupation, illiterate and with little chance of moving up a few degrees in the conservative Brazilian social pyramid. In São Paulo, Raimunda married with another migrant, had two kids and got situated socially. From house to house, cleaning to cleaning, she remained illiterate, poor and without money to have anything else but the essential.
In the last five years, however, Raimunda’s story started to change. Her purchasing power was growing and, little by little, she started to have access to luxury items that before were unthinkable. She even opened a savings account and, two years ago, achieved her biggest conquest: she built a little house in the satellite city of Itapecerica da Serra. For her children, Raimunda has been able to give them a chance at moving up in life even more. The oldest son, Rodrigo, 19 years old, is studying business administration at a private university. The youngest, Vitor, 11 years old, recently started an English course. “We learned that without studying, we don’t get anything in life,” she said. “The boys know this, the see it and are taking advantage of an opportunity that their father and I never had.” In the wake of her children’s graduation, even Raimunda decided to start studying. She already left illiteracy behind her and, now, dreams of one day enrolling in a university. Last year, she got her first diploma: completing middle school, at 46 years old.
Raimunda was able to change her style of life not only by her own spectacular will power. Without the economic foundation that her country has built in the last 15 years, perhaps her endeavor would not have worked out. Like many people, she could earn more money because Brazil is undergoing an exceptional moment. In five years, 32 million people, equivalent to half of France, ascended socially. The most impressive phenomenon occurred with the old low middle-class, which today is called the C class, which multiplied itself and began to represent half of the country’s population. Close to 90 million Brazilians now possess a monthly salary of between R$1,115 and R$4,800 and they’ve become a powerful force that has already been called by some specialists a dominant class, economically-speaking. With the R$1,300 that Raimunda earns cleaning upper middle-class houses in São Paulo, she became part of this new economic force.” – Source (more here, in PT)