We are all stressed out because only a miracle can solve my brother's family's problem right now... (please pray if you do, particularly tomorrow morning!)
Only recently we found out that the engineer/contractor that my brother hired to finish his new apartment in Brazil may have swindled him! :-( I have difficulty breathing just thinking about it. They paid him ahead of time (all the money they had in the world about 40K) because the contractor was going to pay his employees, the carpenter, and also order and pay for the materials at the home improvement stores.
My brother & his wife bought a new apartment late last year, but in Brazil new apartments need to be finished: they need floors (wood, tiles), finishing the walls (and painting), putting in built-in wardrobes (houses don't have closets in Brazil) and kitchen cabinets, safety bars on the windows, among other things. They hired an architect to plan what to do and got various quotes. Then, they selected a builder who came highly recommended by my brother's colleagues in the company (this guy had built their houses/ remodeled their apartments, etc) and they signed a contract with him back in November last year, hoping to move into the apartment in March or April, by the latest.
However, the contractor never really started the work in earnest. There were many excuses, such as the electricity being turned off and them not being able to work for two weeks and then my brother (and a little later my sister-in-law) found out that this guy owes thousands of dollars (actually "reais") to a lot of people, has been sued by four previous clients and is, in sum, discredited and in deep trouble. Apparently the architect knew all along, but never told them until now (how mean is that?!).
The carpenter was actually paid part of his share already, but he needs the rest of the money so he can do the work. The stores where they selected the materials never received any orders or any payments.
Meanwhile they've been living at my sister-in-law's parents house (down the street from my mom & dad) with two very young children and without access to lots of their things which are still in boxes since they moved from New Zealand back in September last year.
Yeah, not good! :-( And my mom and sister-in-law are basically freaking out even though they're trying to have faith that things can still work out. My brother is meeting with the contractor (who's demanding more money because of the "lost weeks" due to the electricity) tomorrow morning.
Talk about the shock of going back to one's own country and finding out that you cannot trust anyone. (although a similar thing happened to him in NZ regarding a possible car sale, obviously the loss was much smaller then. Maybe my brother needs to trust people less... isn't that a sad thing to say? Yeah, it's a mean world out there...). I'll let you know what happens. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers!