Aurora da Rua vendors Norma and Lazaro: “Love has taken us from the streets”

By Roberto Almeida, Aurora da Rua

Norma and Lazaro live in a little house surrounded by pretty plants in a quiet area of Salvador. But their lives were not always this quiet. Their lives were full of suffering. A dysfunctional family was the reason they went to the streets. “I left home when I was 13, for 28 years living in the streets. It was a terrible time, experiencing a lot of humiliation”, says Norma. Lazaro lived for 11 years in the streets and has also had an equally hard life.  “My dad beat me a lot. In the streets I tried glue, pot, a lot a bad stuff,” he says.

Life in the streets can make you feel like you are constantly losing. A lot of times it gives you a feeling of an empty story and life. You lose the right to a private space and silence. Throughout the years that they lived without a home, Norma and Lazaro were victims of the violence that rules the streets. But, if violence has its path, what liturgy won’t love have to defend those who love each other? In the case of Norma and Lazaro, that was the trigger for this life changing moment. They met on a Christmas evening, during a street party, and from that moment decided to spend their lives together, gradually finding a way of getting off the streets. Together to this day, it started to be a safe place for both of them. “I used to live in the streets begging. I didn’t even have money to buy bread. I met Lazaro, helped him to get his papers. Nowadays I am fine, at my home. Love got us out of the streets,” says Norma with a smile in her face.

Norma and Lazaro on their wedding day

24 February, 2011, will always be in Lazaro and Norma’s memories. After a long seven-year path, they got married in an exciting ceremony at the Court Ruy Barbosa, in Salvador. On the same evening, at Trindade Church, they were blessed with a celebration among many friends, with cocktails, a white dress and wedding rings. Today, they say, without hesitating, that they can’t live without each other. She is always worried about him. Lazaro, who today is 42, is a vendor of Aurora da Rua magazine. Norma, 47, besides being a housewife, also sells the street paper.

Even with a little struggle, they manage to pay their bills, afford rent and food. “We have a very simple life; we don’t want big things. We just wish to own a house one day, but we are very happy.” They almost say it at the same time, evoking the famous statement by writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “the essential remains invisible to the eyes”.

Translated by Patricia Lopes Pereira