Excerpt from Chapter – Benedita da Silva (Benedita Souza da Silva Sampaio)

Published September 9, 2017

Benedita da Silva, born Benedita Souza da Silva Sampaio on April 26, 1942, had every reason to become an average, unknown Brazilian. She was born in the slums of Copacabana to a single mother; she experienced a loving, yet horrific childhood. Her mother instilled in her the virtues of hard work and determination. However, her upbringing did not erase the traumatic experiences of being raped before she was ten, enduring multiple miscarriages, and eventually having a baby only to see it die not long after its birth.57

None of these experiences deterred Sampaio from her determination and ambitions. She was forty years old when she completed high school and began college with her twenty-year-old daughter as a classmate. She was prompted by her life experiences to change the world around her for the better. Sampaio organized women in her neighborhood into a slum association. Addressing obstacles particularly faced by women, she helped them fight for improved living conditions.