Heal the world. But start with yourself!

I’ve met a wonderful woman in Rio de Janeiro: Samia El Mannani. Samia was born in the suburbs of Paris, France, her roots are Moroccan. She arrived 2 years ago in Rio, 80 Euros in her pockets and broken hearted. Ready to start a new life. And from what I see today – she succeeded.

This is what Samia is writing about herself:

One day a woman in the favela said to me “You rich people are very lucky!”

This phrase changed my life completely. For the first time I share with the people who I am. I replied to her that I was very rich. Rich of love. I told them that I was born into a Morrocan family the suburbs of Paris. I was the second of 3 kids.

My parents got divorced when I was 5 years old. At that time it started that I was raped by many men. The first one was the husband of my nanny, the second my uncle, the third my mother’s boyfriend. All my life – until today – I have to learn that sex is NO obligation, it should be a desire. So it’s very hard for me to have a normal sexuality.

One of my mother’s uncle used to beat me a lot. For no reason.

I fled home and find refuge in the library. I read books or just watch images. I’ve got lost in my dreams waiting for my prince on the white horse … Not so long ago I realised that it was just a fairytale.

I left home I was 12 years old. I left because of lack of love. Too much abuse. I passed first for few months in a children home, then i want to live with father and his wife and my brother but a year after they kick me out of their home.
When I was 14 years old I lost my dearest brother.
Back at children’s home until the age of 20 years – where I at least had some kind of order in my life – I was raped for years there as well.

Drug addiction followed.
Noone had confidence in me.
Nobody thought I would ever achieve anything.

To free herself from this incredible burden, Samia decided to work as a volunteer in the favelas. She is working with kids and adults. At least one day per week. Sometimes she stays at their houses over night. I went with her for a day and met a few of the families she is working with. They love her. They accept her. And the gangs controlling the favela (young men carrying machine guns around in the middle of the day) leave her alone.

When she first came the favelados thought she was rich. And that she was here to give presents. But she answered them she was here because she loves them. Love is all she has to offer. And time. And she was telling them her story … She opened her heart and let everything go. And the favelados got her message. They understood. It helped them to become more reliable while she is working with them, they feel responsible for what they do and they understood, that EVERYBODY has a chance.

Samia realized through her work, that she doesn’t has to be perfect, that she doesn’t has to control everything, that she can be open about her past and still b eloved. She realized that the world is not so much about HER, but about the WE … that she needs a strong “me” to start a better “we” – she healed herself while she was helping others …

I think a wonderful story!

The Internet, her photography and video work helped her to find a better understanding of what she is doing, who she is, it helped her to spread the word of what she is doing and connect her with the world back home. Now Samia is actively starting to reach out to the world, telling her story and so hopefully helping others to overcome their burdens as well.

What an invitation …!

She loves “her” children and “her” families in the favela. Their next project is to make something “BIG” out of her new office and the huge yard in front of it:


office, yard, kids doing favela painting

My idea was to create an open air theatre where the favelados feel free to tell their stories and where other theatre groups can come and perform …

13 thoughts on “Heal the world. But start with yourself!”

  1. I am very proud to know you dear Samia! Good luck with all what you do there, your Love which you share with others in need – is Love to this Life! <3

  2. Samia is a dear and beautiful friend of mine. She taught me many things about healing yourself. You make your own love, beauty and happiness.. which is everywhere if only you can open your eyes to see it.. Bless her every day, Je’taime Me amour xxxx

  3. Samia is a survivor. Despite her unpriviledged background, unhappy upbringing and unstable homelife, as vulnerable as an innocent child can be, through the rocky road, Samia made it. Amazing human being! Samia chose to hope for a better day and here you are living out your dream ‘ Helping others’! The lotus flower grows in the mud. Samia, I just want to tell you how much I admire your beauty, strength, courage and determination. You are a true blessing in our lives and I feel very fortunate to be your friend. I love you, 4real!!!

  4. A powerful story Samia! It was a pleasure meeting you just after arriving in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil! You are a true success! I was not aware you had such a rough upcoming. I am always here for you if I can help in any way.

    your friend,
    anthony giuffrida

  5. Samia, This is so beautiful. Thank you for having the courage to post this. When I went to the Favelas with you I saw the love you have for those children. I saw how much they love you. You make a difference in their lives. They make a difference in your life. You are pure shining love.

    Peace and Love,
    Inika

  6. OMG my darling Samia!

    I have known Samia for a few years now, not in great detail of her story, and I definitely knew nothing about her past. But I always was in great awe of her sunny, very courageous, self-less, loving and positive personality, she has been a great inspiration and moral support to me, often accross the countries over the internet, encouraging me in my own pain and difficulties.

    Darling Im SOOO glad and also so very humbled now that you shared the story of your past. Yes, it gives me a deeper understanding and context to the amazing being that you are! I love and admire you so much! Its so good you shared it, it gives even more power to you and to the capacity to heal others. VIVA SAMIA! You are in my prayers and in my heart!

    Hana UK

  7. For travelling the road when your feet were bleeding, for crossing the rivers when there were no bridges, for moving towards embodying the all pain and the abuse, the suffering that so many are not able to own, and for in all this choosing to be curious, for choosing truth, and trusting in the majic of innocence, not knowing…and for being who you are in all of shadows shades and lights many prisms of color….for all this you are a beautiful unique expression of life who i am grateful to share here in acknowledging and seeing, your journey touches the world in healing again and again….thankyou for showing up, being seen, and sharing all of you with the we. Tiamo amore, tiamo… we are so loved….

  8. Ma cherie,

    Je t`M encore plus fort.
    You are and have always be an inspiration to me and to others.
    I am blessed and happy to be part of your life and journey.
    May the light shine upon you, Onto you and in your surroundings.
    Love, Peace and Light.
    Sat Naam.

  9. Thank you for your beautiful words and support.
    I want to thank, to give my gratitude to Hubert Campan.
    He was also the one who coach me for years. We worked on the present and the future. He helped me and continue to do it.
    It was a deep work, deep process with a successful resultat.
    He trust on me and see on me the beautiful woman. I finally see it as well.
    Viva Samia Samaya Amour VIVE LA VIE.

  10. It feels great to read your story Sister.
    I am so Proud of You! 🙂
    Grow and glow your EternalLight & Love into the World.
    We are Blessed with your Strength & Courage.
    Thank You …. I Love You

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