Casa do Caminho - solidarity, empathy and care
A source of inspiration for a renewed humanity
This is a happy story that takes place inside a hospital. Despite having many patients, the Casa do Caminho (Pathway House) appears more like a house than a hospital. The geriatric sector takes in chronically paralysed patients or those dependent on bedside care. The psychiatry sector (deactivated in 2019) supported the re-integration of patients suffering from mental illness into their families. The story begins in 1980 in the bucolic city of Araxá, Brazil, when José Tadeu Silva brought home two old invalids abandoned by their families, and installed them in his parents´ bed, who have passed away shortly before. Four years later, when the people of Araxá discovered the small house of adobe bricks and dirt floor, they were at first incredulous over the rumors of a man who was taking in the sick of the city. At that time Tadeu was already giving shelter to 14 people. The dirt floor contrasted with the crisp white sheets on the beds of the sick.
It was a house that seemed needy in every way, but in fact lacked nothing.
Since then the House has grown and cared for thousands of people. I spent a week there and didn't find sadness. Although most of the patients' personal stories are of abandonment, this feeling is not seen on their faces. John Loengard, former photo editor at Life magazine, once wrote: "One of the gifts that photography gives us is its acute ability to register the human condition". For some photographers, suffering is more worth recording than joy. For others the opposite. I've been looking for the middle way and can affirm I have found joy in suffering at Casa do Caminho. It is said that a golden rule in documentary photography is to avoid producing stories that arouse only pity in the audience. The House is a source of inspiration for a renewed humanity.