Brazil is on track to become an economic powerhouse in the 21st century, but gaping social inequalities still plague this country of 187 million. Simon Marks offers the first in a series of reports from Brazil on the country's economic and political scene.
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Brazil. Tonight, we begin a three-part series about that country's booming economy and rising place on the global stage. NewsHour special correspondent Simon Marks reports on Brazil's domestic challenges.
SIMON MARKS, NewsHour Special Correspondent:
In Brazil today, the path out of poverty can begin with a wash and blow dry. In Pavaleras (ph), one of the poorest communities on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, a hole-in-the-wall beauty parlor represents opportunity for a mother and daughter.
The mother is 32-year-old Deise Duarte da Silva, and her life changed the day her daughter, 17-year-old Sylvia (ph), won a government-funded competition. The prize: a free visit to the dentist.
DEISE DUARTE DA SILVA, Hairdresser (through translator):
When we got there, they were also offering a hair dressing course for free, so we registered for it. We did the course. And while we were finishing it, I was working as a house cleaner. Then I said, "Right, it's time for me and my daughter to build our own beauty salon." So that's how this great opportunity started.
The salon opened last December. After completing the training course, the da Silvas were given money by the government to purchase the equipment they needed to turn a vacant garage into what has now become something of a local social center.
DEISE DUARTE DE SILVA (through translator):
At first, I started the business in my house, but then I rented the garage, and soon I hope to invest a little built more. Who knows? In a short time, we might have yet another person working with us.