William Silva dos Santos doesn’t remember much about his life before he found a new family in the SOS Children’s Village Rio Bonito in Brazil. He was later told that he was locked up for days without food with his siblings. Now he lives by the words of the Michael Jackson song that says “heal the world, make it a better place for you and for me”.
After becoming part of a loving, caring family in SOS Children’s Village Rio Bonito at the age of 8, things became even better for William when a German family took him under their wing. His godmother Susanne Garavy encouraged him to study hard, and the family paid for him to attend a private school.
Soon William was helping his SOS Children’s Village brothers and sisters with their homework. He even became a temporary computer teacher at the organisation’s national office in Brazil when he was 12 years old.
William Silva dos Santos. Photographer: SOS Archives
Long after he left his SOS Children’s Village home William is still helping his brothers and sisters. He contributes financially, but “what I like most is to motivate them to keep on fighting, studying and working”.
Although he won several scholarships and attended exchange programmes as a teenager, William also had to face the disappointment of not being able to study medicine in the United States because of visa problems. However, it did not stop him from becoming a highly qualified nurse in the intensive care unit of the Sao Camilo Hospital in Sao Paulo.
The list of William’s voluntary charity work is long. Among others, he has organised various projects to raise funds, provide healthcare or collect food, clothes and other products for charitable organisations as founder and chairperson of the local Rotary International club. This included the donation of 1,500 books to hospital libraries.
Ask him which achievements he is proudest of, and the answer is becoming a successful nurse, starting his own language school, starting and running a home for the elderly, and opening a factory making women’s clothing.
“William’s capacity to overcome difficulties in life and his determination to reach his goals, is an example to SOS Children’s Villages’ children. As a young entrepreneur he is very involved in social issues.”
Mr Luiz Carvalho, Village Director SOS Children’s Village Rio Bonito.