Mother finds strength to make Toledo her homeWritten by Nicholas Huenefeld | | email@example.com
Soraia Taha struggled in her younger days, but never gave up on making Toledo a home for her daughter.
Taha fell in love with America when she was an exchange student in Appleton, Wis., in 1979. However, she would have to return to Brazil after one year and she was disappointed.
“I had just fallen in love with this country,” Taha said. “There was nothing here I didn’t like, except maybe the cold. I prefer the hot weather in Brazil.”
She finished her four-year mathematics degree in Sao Paulo, never able to get the United States out of her mind.
“I was really lost,” she said. “I wanted to come back, but I had no way.”
That was until a young child and his father, who owned a business called Open Pantry in Toledo, visited Brazil looking for a translator. She offered her services and they accepted.
“I think they probably thought I wasn’t coming,” she said. “They were probably like, ‘oh yeah, sure, ok.’”
She started working at Open Pantry immediately, and to make a little extra, she took a second job at a local carryout.
“Guess what, though?” Taha said. “I couldn’t make it. Even though I was working day and night at two markets at the time, I had a small amount of money.”
Facing reality, she was prepared to go home. As one last effort, she took and passed the U.S. Postal Service test.
“I was not nervous at all taking the test because I thought I was going home,” she said. “When they got back to me and said I scored 100 percent, I was in shock.”
She started working for the postal service, and, in 1995, had her daughter Stephanie. It was difficult to raise a child as a single parent.
“I was 34 and a single mom,” she said. “[The father] had left me when I was seven months pregnant to remarry his ex-wife.”
Taha said they have since become good friends and he’s been a great father.
“He’s very precious because he is very handy,” she said, laughing. “That’s one thing — if your ex is handy, you can’t turn him away.”
After a few more years at the post office, Taha left to become a day trader.
“Big mistake,” she said. “Big lesson, though.”
After Sept. 11, the stocks went down, and Taha lost everything.
She started cleaning offices, houses and anything that came along. She also got a job as a waitress at The Beirut restaurant.
“I would work there until 10:30 or 11:30 p.m. at night, then clean the parking lot for a couple hours,” she said.
“To me, work, no matter how much they pay, is money,” she said. “No matter how much it is, it’s extra.”
While she was still waitressing and cleaning, she decided to become a real estate agent in 2004. Yet, she still took on more.
“I didn’t want to wait until I needed the money,” she said. “I always work. I do anything I can, so I don’t ever have to be short on money.”
It was at the Beirut where she met Corrine Joseph. The two of them realized they were neighbors and became close friends.
“If you were to give her an A, B, C, D, she would be a double A-plus,” Joseph said. “She is first class and a wonderful person. She would do anything for anyone.”
Taha said she loves life, even its ups and downs.
Today, she is no longer in real estate, but still cleans, while running a business from her home. She continues to help others, too.
“You know how bad I feel when people say, ‘Soraia, can you watch my [elderly] parents?’ It’s heartbreaking to say no, no matter what kind of job it is.”
Taha said she’s dedicated herself to Toledo, and through it all, she is grateful to be here.
“I went through a lot, but it was all worth it,” she said. “If you ask me what I still need, it’s nothing. I’ve got it all.”