Maria Inês and her son Stephano came to Portugal in 2010 to visit family members who they had not seen in six years. Their goal was never to stay, just to visit their children and return to Brazil, after this vacation period.

However, this didn’t happen. One night Stephano had a serious health problem, which led him to the hospital. He was examined by the doctors, whilst his mother, concerned, felt that something was wrong with her son, who later was submitted to a series of surgeries and examinations. The result was revealed a clinical scenario that left him very serious sequelae. And it is following this unfortunate incident that everything changes in the life of mother and son.

After seven months at the Hospital, Stephano was transferred to a continuing care unit where he continued his recovery.

Maria Inês is an example of strength, dedication and resilience, always thinking about a better life quality for her son. Nowadays, her life revolves around the wellbeing of Stephano, and she always looks for providing him the possible comfort.
She tells us that the lack of proper rehabilitation has aggravated the problem and that he has lost a lot of weight but is still recovering. The clinical picture of Stephano is not reversible, however, the persistence of his mother has brought some results, small victories that encourage her as a mother and caregiver to continue their path for improvements in the health of Stephano.

For months, Maria Inês tried in vain to find a rehabilitation center, where her son could continue his recovery. Due to the lack of prospects of obtaining specialized assistance for her son in Portugal, Maria Inês decided to return to Brazil, where she believes Stephano could continue his recovery. Despite having the support of the family, Maria Inês says that the situation in her country is difficult. However, you have to have faith in the future, she tell us: "To be very honest, I live one day at a time. I try not to make plans, I don’t want to make plans. I want to feel that every day was worthwhile to be with my son, and to feel that he can recover something more".

Maria Inês and her son returned to Brazil in May 2015.
In addition to the support of IOM and the TAP Volunteers with Wings project, they were accompanied by the Red Cross Delegation of Braga, who gave us this testimony of courage and struggle. In a message sent later, Maria Inês tells us that the integration is at its best in Brazil, and Stephano was admitted as a patient in the SARAH Network (Rehabilitation Center - Salvador Unit) and continues his recovery with unconditional support of the mother and the rest of his family.

The Red Cross is a humanitarian and independent institution whose mission is to protect human dignity, especially amongst the most vulnerable population, where the migrant population is of great importance. The Portuguese Red Cross (CVP) has been working on migration issues since 2002, and since 2003 has been part of the network of local centers to support immigrant integration. The CVP's Braga Delegation has also been working since 2003 on a partnership with IOM, namely in the Voluntary Return program. .