He never met his father, went to live at the age of six in a shelter and recently managed to be one of 30 winners in a selection process among 500 competitors to study in the US.
Yuri de Melo Costa, 20, was approved last March to join Watson Institute’s Fall 2019 Semester Incubator, a semi-annual incubator for social project development.
Yuri was accepted for having developed a project as a dropout. The subject was chosen precisely because it was the school’s true salvation. With a pure and easy smile, despite the adversities, the young man considers himself privileged for the simple fact of having remained in his studies, even in an environment where the temptation to drop out of school is very strong.
“My project is about dropping out even because I saw how this is a reality in the country. I’m the first in my family to graduate from high school. I want to help try to reduce dropout. It didn’t affect me, but has affected my family. I want to try to impact Brasil in some way so that this situation changes.”
The young man was born and raised surrounded by the hills and woods of Juiz de Fora, where he still lives. Until the age of four, he lived in a peripheral neighborhood, São Benedito, with his mother, the grandmother, brothers Jennifer (now 24), Pablo (now 23), Kailan and two other aunts. Ge studied at Emei in the neighborhood, where he was already encouraged by “Aunt” Cleia, who saw potential in the boy.
And perhaps, by some intuition, she was already predicting that he would have difficulties in life. Earlier, Yuri lost a brother who never knew the name.
Yuri also did not know his father, who does not even appear in his record. And when the boy was four years old, his mother began to get involved with drugs. The addiction was increasing, to the point that she exchanged old things of the house for the substances.
“Seeing this, my grandmother took me and my brothers to stay with her. I lived with her for a while, until she had a stroke. I remember the day when I came home from school I saw my grandmother having the stroke – it was hard.”
The brothers were taken by the Youth Stick under SOS Children’s Villages. Kailan was adopted and changed his name.
“It was a good solution for me to go to the shelter. I had access to several opportunities, psychological, psychiatric support, I took swimming lessons, guitar. The Village made it possible to keep me busy and offered me opportunities that my family could not offer me.”