A Mother's 10-Year Fight Against AIDS
By Ernest Barteldes
If I can Only Make One Man Aware, One Person Care, Then I'll have done What I promised you
Olivia Newton-John ('The Promise')
Cazuza, whose given name was Agenor de Miranda Araújo, was a singer and composer who was, in his short time in this world, considered the poet of his generation.
His lyrics spoke to the youngsters of his time, and his songs, almost ten years after his untimely passing at mere 32 years of age, remain highly popular in Brazil.
There was a concert at Rio de Janeiro's Apoteose Square on October 17, 1990, and the money collected for tickets was used to benefit AIDS-treating hospitals such as the Gafrée & Guinle hospital.
Mrs. Araujo stated, "We were surprised that the doctors were not only interested in the money; they wanted our help as well, and so the society was founded".
I inquired if, like in Freddie Mercury's case, Cazuza had requested that money be donated for AIDS charities. She replied that she'd never spoken to her son about the subject.
For the first two years of its existence, the society, which survives from royalties from Cazuza's songs, sales from Mrs. Araujo's self-penned biography of her son and other donations, dedicated its efforts for the Gafrée and Guinle hospital by donating food supplies, HIV testing kits and it also increased the size of the hospital's AIDS ward.
After 1992, the society broke off its connection with the hospital, and has since started its own home for HIV-infected children.
The house was donated by Rio de Janeiro's City Hall. The organization currently serves thirty children under its care, who are watched over by a group of professionals, including physiotherapists, dentists, social workers and a nutritionist. The program includes several educational and leisure activities.
The Viva Cazuza Society also conducts a project in which it cares for 48 outpatients (who are visited monthly under the supervision of a doctor and a social worker). It both gives and supervises medical care and food supplies, condoms and other necessities.
The Society also conducts educational services for those who are employed by HIV-support homes, and serves as consultants for the media on the subject of AIDS.
Another important feature is the Internet-based scientific forum, in which doctors and patients discuss HIV. They translate papers into Portuguese that have been presented at AIDS congresses worldwide as well as information from major AIDS publications.
Mrs. Araújo has written, with the assistance of journalist Regina Echeverria a biography of Cazuza, entitled "Só As Mães São Felizes"(Only Mothers are Happy), after one of Cazuza's songs.
She recommended to me that I read her book, saying: "I am sure that you will admire and know better a side of my son which was not of previous public knowledge."
Only Mothers are Happy was published in 1997 but unfortunately no English translation of it as yet exists, possibly because the American and British press are not interested in the life story of a Brazilian rock poet.
Mrs. Araujo's attitude is a brave one. Whilst many would just disappear in their grief, she's made her son's passing as meaningful in fact as was his existence.
Cazuza's life and music brought happiness and joy to many, including myself. His legacy, instead of being just an end or a memory of past times and great music, brings hope to many who suffer from this terrible disease that has claimed so many lives.
It is the work of Brazilians such as Mrs. Araújo that makes us still believe in a future for this politically corrupt country.
The Viva Cazuza Society welcomes donations of clothing, non-perishable foods, cleaning products and toys. They can be sent to:
Sociedade Viva Cazuza
Rua Pinheiro Machado 39, Laranjeiras - Rio de Janeiro
CEP: 22231-090 - Brazil
They also accept donations in money, which can be credited to:
Bank: Bradesco S/A
Branch nr.0887-7 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Account number 26901-8
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org The Viva Cazuza website:
More information on the life and works of Cazuza can be found @ http://www.cazuza.com.br