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Her natural father, she was told, had been a drug trafficker and her mother had abandoned her at birth.Brought up by her 65-year-old grandmother, Donna Maria, the pair ate from bins and scraped a living in Sao Paulo selling cardboard boxes they picked up off the filthy streets. Surrounded by crack addicts and slum gangsters, Ana was trapped in a hand-to-mouth existence with almost no chance of survival. She was given drugs to hide in her underwear when the police were around.

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‘They gave me a pink nightie and a pink fluffy robe,’ she recalls. It was heaven.’Through pointing and hand gestures, she got to know her new family.

Desperately malnourished and needing an operation her grandmother could not afford, she was facing an early death when she met Mr Nicholson.‘At first I was scared,’ she remembers. But he shook my hand and gave me sherbet-coated sweets.