“Sao Paulo is hard to explain because it’s not like a dangerous place but it’s not like a safe place either. At any moment anything could happen with you; you could be kidnapped … I wasn’t happy there.”
Daniel Alexander Silver immigrated from Sao Paulo, Brazil, six years ago with the dream of escaping mayhem and securing himself a safe and prosperous future.
At the age of 28, the Brazilian events manager had become disillusioned with the violence, murder and sense of uncertainty that plagued Sao Paulo’s streets. As a testament to the torrid state of affairs in his hometown, Mr Silver left his family and friends behind and chased a better life in Australia.
“In Brazil, especially in Sao Paulo, we have a big social problem with lots of rich people and lots of poor people so the economic difference between them makes the violence get really strong,” said Mr Silver.
“Sao Paulo is hard to explain because it’s not like a dangerous place but it’s not like a safe place either. At any moment anything could happen with you; you could be kidnapped … some one could fucking shoot you just to try to steel your watch or your phone. I wasn’t happy there.”
Prior to making the journey to Australia Mr Silver was aware of the difficulties in securing permanent residency but, like the growing number of South American imports, he decided it was time to risk it all. In addition to the paperwork and police checks that went along with securing temporary residency, Mr Silver was required to prove that he earned at least $1500 per month and would be able to support himself in Australia.
“For us Brazilians we don’t have this working holiday visa so for us the easiest way to come and stay in Australia is as a student,” Mr Silver recalled.
Without the access or ability to obtain a working holiday visa, Mr Silver was able to apply only for a student visa. English remained a constant obstacle throughout the application process. Mr Silver required help from an agency in Sao Paulo to assist with the application process and finding a course in Australia.
“I came to Australia with $800 and no English,” Mr Silver said.
“The third month was the worst one. All my money was over. It was hard to find a job with no English. Some people that came with me on the same plane, they gave up and went back to Brazil.
“I did three months’ English and then I renewed for the English as well because in three months you can’t learn anything so I did another six months of English and then I got a two-year visa to do my business course.”
Six years later, at the age of 34, Daniel has overcome the adversities of transitioning to a new country and culture, and is reaping the invaluable and plentiful rewards of his perseverance. He is in a long-term relationship and has now obtained de facto residency.
Mr Silver is now also a successful business owner and event manager, with long-term plans to launch a tour company in Thailand and a Mexican-style bar.
Though he worked hard to make his dream a reality, made many sacrifices and momentarily hit rock bottom, on the balance of things, Mr Silver still can’t believe his good fortune.
“Thank God my life here is really good,” he said.
“Actually, my life is perfect.” – Rebecca Hopper and Sergio Magliarachi
Top image from metal-dog Flickr account