Blind Brazilian Adventist Serves
Antonio Jose Ferreira, a blind Seventh-day Adventist, is the new head of Brazil’s National Secretariat for the Promotion of the Rights of People With Disabilities (SNPD). He is a member of the Asa Norte Seventh-day Adventist Church, Brasilia, and now has the main goal of channeling government resources to help people with disabilities.
ADVENTIST ADVOCATE: Antonio Jose Ferreira, a blind Seventh-day Adventist, is the new head of Brazil’s National Secretariat for the Promotion of the Rights of People With Disabilities (SNPD).Recalling a humble childhood in the backwoods of Pernambuco state and the difficulty he had in school, Ferreira said that from his youth he wanted to help others in similar situations: “I was always aware that I should fight for people with disabilities to achieve a better life. So very early on I had this goal and made it my main goal in life. The difficulties are tremendous, but with faith and perseverance we are winning victories,” he said.
Ferreira says that his faith is important and that he believes God has guided his career: “It was a miracle that I am in this position of great importance in Brazil’s political arena,” he explained. “So I continue to ask for divine inspiration to contribute positively in improving the lives of some 30 million Brazilians who often don’t know their own rights,” he says.
Ferreira was born blind in his right eye because of a congenital glaucoma. At the age of 6, because of a medical error, he lost the sight in his left eye. Because of the difficulties caused by lack of financial resources and because of poor health, he began studying in a school for blind individuals in Recife.
At the age of 14 he began his political activism, and was elected president of the Student Guild of the Institute for the Blind in Recife. Gradually his work gained credibility, and in 2008 he was elected the first president of the National Organization of Blind Brazil (ONCB).
—reported by Luzia Paula, South American Division