The shadows of Recife’s skyscrapers stretch for miles towards the hinterland of Paraiba and the rural villages of Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil.
They hide black or mulatto mothers, under the age of 19 or over 40. They are not very well educated, but they are united by a fate that seems to have very little to do with chance: they are the women who most often give birth to children with microcephaly.
Although the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus emergency over with the end of the Olympic Games in Brazil in 2015, the mosquito carrier Aedes aegypti continues to strike. Some blame the leaking aqueducts and rain cans, the only resources for fighting drought when building wells, while purchasing sealed cans is expensive. Perhaps theres even a genetic predisposition. It’s definitely a consequence of the poor controls, which are carried out only in the city and after the virus has already defeated the other mothers who walk miles to find a cure for children who already bear the mark of the pathology.These are births that in some cases could be avoided by abortion, but faith in God and Jesus, who silently watches over them from the images blanketing their homes, is stronger. These women care very little about the headlines, which are starting to talk about a virus which is probably aggravated by genetic modifications in the insects and which is spreading in an area where the birth rate is out of control.
Those women who can, try to help their children swim in therapeutic pools, on account of the support that water provides for their atrophied limbs. Few of them can afford the expensive treatments that include botox injections to protect their childrens muscles, stimulation with flashlights to strengthen their eyesight, and physiotherapy exercises.
These women accept what comes their way and suffer in silence, as traditional society expects from a Brazilian woman. Bow your head, whether big or small, and carry on.