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WYD volunteer assists pilgrims with disability in memory of brother

Micael de Almeida

Isabella H. de Carvalho / i.Media

Micael is on the far left

Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 08/05/23

Micael de Almeida is a World Youth Day volunteer and missionary for the Community “Colo de Deus.” After taking care of his disabled brother, he is now assisting pilgrims with disabilities at WYD.

Micael de Almeida, a 29-year-old World Youth Day volunteer from Brazil, proudly carries around his neck a small photograph, inside the plastic sheet containing his badge. It is an image of his disabled brother, who was supposed to come to WYD with him, but passed away of a cardiac arrest in 2022. Originally from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, Micael is studying to become a physiotherapist. Now he is participating in WYD as one of the leaders of the volunteer team assisting disabled participants, as a tribute to his brother and to fulfill his vocation as a missionary.

“I participated as a pilgrim in 2013 in Rio de Janeiro. That is when I had a first contact with God and felt called to missionary life. My vocation, my ‘yes,’ passed through the hands of those volunteers so I decided to become a volunteer too,” Micael explained, as he is part of the Brazilian Community “Colo de Deus” (God’s Womb), which focuses on bringing people who are far away from the faith closer to the Church. “If I am here today it is because some of the thousands of volunteers in the past WYD committed themselves and gave their lives.”

Since 2013 Micaell has worked on several volunteer projects in Brazil, especially rehabilitating disabled people who may not have the means to pay for health services. This is because, having a disabled family member himself, assisting people with disabilities and including them in the Church has always been a part of Micael’s life. 

“Being here on this team and accompanying people with disabilities so that they can get closer to the faith is to carry the legacy of my brother,” Micael said, explaining with a big smile how he brings his brother’s photo with him wherever he goes. “My family and I have always fought for inclusion and sensitivity to people with disabilities.” 

“My purpose in life is that people with disabilities feel loved and welcomed by the Church,” Micael emphasized. “Don’t exclude people with disabilities, they are able to do everything and they also have a space in the Church. They have a space in the house of the Lord and need to feel loved. This is what I want to bring to the Church.” 

As a missionary, Micael explained that he “gave up everything to live the plans of God.” However, today he says he receives “100 times more, as the word of the Lord says.” 

Health services at WYD 

Now at the Lisbon WYD, Micael is one of seven people leading the health team that is dedicated to assisting the bishops, who may need more support due to their advanced age, and the disabled participants. Having had experience taking care of his brother, Micael especially focuses on assisting the disabled participants. He arrived in Lisbon on July 3. 

He explained that his team will be present at the major WYD events in special areas dedicated to these categories of people who will be located closer to the stages. Micael and his team will be focusing on first aid in case of emergencies and have also been preparing to ensure the adequate structures are in place to accommodate the participants’ different needs. 

“I am very happy to be here, it was a very big opportunity. I never imagined where God would take me,” Micael said with a smile. 

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