Brazil to Texas…The Journey of Vitoria

Barra de Sao Francisco, is a small town of just 37,000 in south eastern Brazil where the Marchioli family (Ronaldo, Jocilene, Debora, Eloisa, and Vitoria) called home.  There journey to Galveston, there home away from home is a story of love and victory.

Vitoria, there youngest daughter was born in September 2008, and faced a challenging life from day one.  Vitoria was severely deformed at birth and doctors gave her parents little hope of survival, as they expected her to live only one hour.  Ronaldo and Jocilene were sent from the hospital and told to visit the local cemetery and arrange burial needs.  The family, full of grief, looked for hope and signs of Vitoria’s will to live.  Hours turned into days, days into weeks, as Vitoria became stronger.  Vitoria’s name means “victory” and “conquer”; and she is just as courageous as her name.

The family takes her home and begins the journey of seeking help for this child with such incredible need.  Ronaldo and Jocilene decide to take Vitoria to the capital city of their state, also named Vitoria for doctor’s care.  Traveling by ambulance, over four hours, the family spends weeks on end from doctor to doctor with no one offering hope for their daughter.  They return home, and in December make the 15 hour trip to Sao Paolo, the largest city in Brazil, for another medical care opportunity for Vitoria.  The family spends two months, working through hospitals, specialist, and numerous surgeons and still little hope.  They return home and continue loving care of their little girl. 

At age 2, Vitoria goes back to Sao Paolo to have eye surgery.  The surgery gives Vitoria some sight and the family once again returns home.  Still wanting more expert care and medical opinion for Vitoria, now 4 years old, they make the journey back to Sao Paolo and find wonderful Dr. Leandro Cunha.  Dr. Cunha tells the Ronaldo and Jocilene, he knows of doctors and has friends in the United States and he will make contact for help.  Dr. Cunha “friends” are our amazing Shriner Burns Hospital. 

In January 2013, the Marchioli’s make the journey from Brazil to Texas and their first visit to Shiner Burn Hospital in Galveston.  Shriner’s is an expert in rebuilding facial features, ears, cleft lips and pallet.  The Marchioli’s finally find hope for the daughter they love so much.   The family makes the 5,000 mile journey every year, spending about one month each time, for additional surgeries and treatment.

Jocilene and Ronaldo love the Ronald McDonald House and have become family over the years.  Jocilene says “the people at the house are so kind” and “we feel so much love when we are here”.  The Journey of Vitoria is a story of love, hope, courage, and victory.


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