He remembers it as the day he lost everything.
When he was 10-years-old, Eduardo Desousa’s 42-year-old father suffered a fatal heart attack. Eduardo’s life in a Sao Paulo slum never was filled with comforts and perks. But before his father’s death, he and his eight brothers and sisters at least had food to eat and a roof over their heads.
My mom was a street kid growing up,” Eduardo says. “She didn’t have any family or anything. So once my dad died, she didn’t even have a government ID. She couldn’t get a job.”
Eduardo began living in the streets and getting into trouble. His mother, on the advice of a friend, decided to put her children in an orphanage.
“I didn’t think she would do it, because most orphanages in Brazil are like prisons,” Eduardo recalls. “The kids usually had their heads shaved. They had scars on their bodies.
“I had known kids who had gone to orphanages and had run away. They came back to the slum, and they talked about their terrible experiences.”
But his mother had no other options. She found three orphanages and told Eduardo he would spend a week in each one before deciding which was to be his new home.
Eduardo never made that three-week tour. The first stop, New Horizons Youth Ranch, suited him and two of his younger brothers. He rededicated his life to Christ during his time there and remained after reaching adulthood, assuming increased responsibilities within the NHYR administration.
His late father would most likely cheer his choices. He read scripture aloud to his older sons, but Eduardo admits that, as a child, he had little interest in listening. During his time at NHYR, he felt called into some kind of full-time Christian ministry.
Founder Steve Solomon was an American who traveled frequently between Brazil and a home in Fort Lauderdale. Eduardo traveled with him at times, eventually enrolling in a GED high school equivalency program at Northeast High School in Oakland Park. He passed the GED test before completing the course, so his next search was for a nearby Christian college with small classes. A Google search led him to Trinity Florida.
“I really wanted a Christian university because I wanted to study Christian ministry,” Eduardo says.
The son of his pastor at New Covenant Church in Pompano Beach confirmed that Trinity was a good choice for what Eduardo wanted to study.
“It was just an ordinary conversation, but I think it was part of God’s plan for me at that moment in my life,” Eduardo says. “That was like a confirmation.”
Once enrolled, Eduardo quickly encountered some problems with writing in English. He needed better language skills to complete his ministry classes.
Several faculty members, including current director of operations Patricia Colangelo, stepped in to help.
“They took me aside and tutored me,” Eduardo says, “and it was all free of charge.”
Eduardo fell in love with South Florida, setting out on a bicycle on weekends to photograph the flowers and greenery sometimes missing in his native Sao Paulo. But his plan is to return to the orphanage in Brazil with degrees in ministry and psychology. Eduardo already earned an undergraduate degree in Christian ministry from Trinity Florida in 2016.
For now, he is continuing graduate-level classes and enjoys being the unofficial photographer on TIU’s Broward campus.
“When I came to Florida, I just got a camera, and I started taking pictures,” Eduardo says. “And I realized that I was pretty good, and I really enjoy it.”
On one of his visits to the orphanage in Brazil, he spent part of a day on a very informal photography seminar, which became popular with the teenaged boys living there.
“I’ll collect some cameras — donations from here or somewhere else — and start a program teaching the kids photography,” Eduardo says.
His definite plan is to return and serve the orphans. One day, he also dreams of moving to Africa and starting an orphanage for infants and very young children.
“I think God put that in my heart. I hope that will happen one day, but I’m taking one step at a time.”