Voltando para casa

Crossing barriers - Going Back Home

Dagmar, Valdivino, Rui, João, José Pereira, Sônia, Marlene, Sebastiana, Cláudia, Grimalda, Conceição, Baiana, Domingos, Luís Miguel, Ioiô ... those are some of the many tenants living in the therapeutic residences who benefited from the Going Back Home Program and that we met and visited in their homes.

Many are elderly people and carry, besides the mental disorder, the problems of old age. The brand of madness can be seen on their bodies – they stagger when they walk, their faces are distorted, their eyes have glassy looks and their teeth are rotten.

But it is under these conditions and with their different stories that they share spacious homes and offer suggestions for their activities. Slowly by they were able to go out in the street and mix with city people with defined purposes: go to the bakery shop, buy clothes and shoes, supermarket, restaurant, take lessons to learn how to read and write, hydrotherapy, work, go to the boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s house.

They all suffered indescribable ill-treatments. They were all hardly hit in their human dignity during the 30 or 40 years of psychiatric confinement. Many of them were confined when still in childhood and completely lost all family ties. Along with their personal story they also told us about the corpses piled up and the macabre ritual of dozens of their companions’ bodies that had their flesh removed after the so-called "midnight tea". Many endured electroshock sessions standing on their feet, were tied to their beds or handcuffed to walls or floors. Some went through "drowning" sessions recommended and performed by the "health professionals" that managed and worked in hospitals.

However, that’s not exactly what they wanted to tell us, when they met us in their homes beginning of March 2007. They took us by the hand and showed us their living rooms and bedrooms decorated with paintings and small altars filled with images of saints they themselves made during the handicraft lessons.They showed us their furniture and electric appliances they had recently bought.The psychosocial rehabilitation aid they monthly receive from the Going Back Home Program in their bank accounts, makes it possible for them to purchase these things.

They showed us their notebooks where they had written the first words in an uncertain handwriting. They told us about the food they prepare, the picnics and trips and showed us the photos.