English translation of letter in Portuguese (Aug 8) by a Brazilian man in prison in HK for drug trafficking:

To Father John

I write to ask for your help. I come from Sao Paulo, Brazil, I do not speak English, and I do not understand any language other than Portuguese - just a very little Spanish.

I had a moment of despair when my mom who is sick needed medicine and a wheelchair as the one she had was broken.

I have two children who are 15 years old (twins) who I haven't seen for almost two years. And I have no possibility to send them monthly financial assistance - BRL 300 - HKD 750 child support.

I have a wooden shack on government land which has rotten and has probably already collapsed by now.

I had an old car I used to work transporting things, which broke. I bought a second old car on credit and the engine burst; I tried again, bought a Kombi and was happy to be able to work, until one month later the police stopped me in a road blitz. They did not take the old Kombi but they took all my documents because they were not up to date. All four tyres of the Kombi were worn out and as it carried quite a lot of weight, the engine started smoking and I could not drive this vehicle in the city.

I went looking for a friend who had helped me before, he was sorry he could not help me this time.

I thanked him and took a bus to Estacao da Luz. There I decide to walk to think of a solution to my situation and walked to Praca da Republica.

I sat down on a bench there and cried helplessly asking myself what am I going to do?

A man came by and sat down next to me. He greeted me and said "don't worry, I am not gay" .

I replied to him that I do not meddle in other people's life. He asked me why I was crying.

I answered him that it was only a moment of despair and it would pass. He offered to help me and asked if USD 5.000 would solve the problem. I said goodbye to him and said "no one offers so much money for nothing in return" . He answered saying " everything has a price". He gave me his cel number , I put it in my pocket and left.

Some days later, my situation worsened, I called this man who had offered to help me. He did not answer the phone. Later, in the evening, he called me back. When I identified myself he told me to go back to the same place I had met him and I went to Praca da Republica. He did not came alone, there was another man with him. They told me that I had to go on a trip carrying something inside my stomach. One of them gave me 4 pellets and told me to go to a hotel nearby, swallow the pellets and returned the next day having eliminated the pellets out of my body. I did as I was told.

I returned the next day after having eliminated the pellets. This time there were three men - two Brazilians and one foreign. It took 45 days for them to persuade me to do this "job" . As I had no way out and no one to go to for help. Then, they gave me USD 1000; with this money I paid some debts and I then told everyone that I was going to spend 20 days travelling and when I returned I was going to pay all my debts to my creditors. These men told me that when I arrived in Hong Kong I would receive another usd 4.000.

They said that after disembarking at the airport in HK, I was to get on the HK MTR, and the owner of the merchandise would tap on my shoulder and that would be the signal.

I ask your help. I am guilty for having accepted to carry this inside my stomach. I need people to understand that I am just a casualty of despair and unemployment, because in Brazil those older than 45 years old do not find employment. When my vehicle worked , I collected aluminium tins, card board, scrap metal and other materials to sell.

I had to sell my pigs very cheaply because I no longer had a vehicle to go fetch food for them. The very little money I received for the pigs, I brought with me to use in this trip to HK.

When I got to Africa to connect flight to HK, I exchanged usd 50 of my money to buy food - this was the money I got from the sale of the pigs. I then had usd 350 left - which was then confiscated as evidence by the Hong Kong authorities. I tried to find out about what is going to happen to this money, and I was upset because I was told that it depends on the judge whether or not they return my money to me.

Father John, all my life I have never done wrong, so I am asking you to read my story attentively, please.

All I wanted was to buy a new wheel chair to my mother, to pay the alimony to my twin children and get my old vehicle repaired so I could go on with my life earning my living honestly.

Do you see, now I lost my freedom, my shack - which has certainly collapsed, and the confidence of my children.

Please help me, at least not to lose my dignity. I know I made a mistake and that I am guilty, but I want to pay for this in my own country.

I am very afraid that when my mother knows that the only son she still has alive, is in prison she may not bear it. In Brazil I would be able to communicate with her more easily than here.

Please help me Father John. Everything is difficult for me here. I do not understand what they say and they donít understand me.

I am God fearing catholic. There are three prison facilities not far from where I lived. And two prison hospitals. There is Father Julio who does voluntary services for the detainees. Several time I have provided services for him. If you could obtain a letter from him I could prove I am not a drug trafficker.

I am just a father who wants to put bread on my children's table and just a son who wants to help my mother.

Everything was going well till my father passed away 35 years ago, and my entire family was forced by circumstances to move from the state of Pernambuco - in the northeast of Brazil - to Sao Paulo, in the southeast. My oldest brother died, I am the youngest and I have another three brothers and one sister all passed away. I have one sister left who lives with my mother, who is infirm and who was waiting for my help.

Father John, this is not a sad story - this was my daily reality.

Everything has always been difficult for me and with no one's help.

I am counting on your help and God's help, in His mercy.

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