Wednesday, April 13, 2005

SURVIVING THE STREETS OF BRAZIL

Roney shows off his latest street scars
Roney shows off some new additions to his growing collection of street scars, irremovable “souvenirs” that will accumulate on his fragile body as long as he is on the streets.

“A childhood is not lived without consequences, among the poor Capitães de Areia boys. Even when afterwards you are to be an artist and not a thief, a murderer or a rascal.” – Jorge Amado


During the delicate phase of motivating a child to leave the streets for good, their worries become our worries. Will they survive the time they will need to reach this important turning point in their lives? Each individual child hides an anonymous history, with debts that some day will have to be paid. For a child trying to survive the mean streets of Brazil, he would be safer riding a wild horse at rodeo.

Their involvement with the underworld and its multiple selection of criminal activities guarantees that sooner or later these kids will end up spending a good part of their childhood in one of the infamous reform institutions or youth detention centres called FEBEM, or better known as “schools” for developing young, aspiring criminals! That is, if they don’t first reach heaven’s doors, as many of their colleagues inevitably will or already have done.

For any loving parent, who lives to protect and provide for their own kin, trying to comprehend what these kids go through on the streets becomes an impossible, surrealistic task. Trying to understand how anyone is capable of inflicting such terrible pain or even killing a child abandoned to the streets, is beyond any normal, caring citizen’s imagination.

Observing the scars left on his frail body, I could only imagine the intense battle Roney must have fought to avoid getting stabbed in a more “strategic” place by that butcher’s knife held in the hands of somebody far worse than any butcher we might happen to know. Had it not been for his well-trained agility, something most kids on the street possess as part of their survival game, I’m quite sure that the outcome of that situation would have ended up in the butcher’s favour.

Hearing Roney tell his incredible story makes me question once again, how on earth any child, who knows and feels the pain inflicted by such episodes, can still have the courage to carry on such a tormented lifestyle, especially when a positive alternative is close-at-hand. Then I quickly remember past experiences and realise the considerable amount of work that lies ahead of us if we are to counterbalance all that is negative in this child’s young life.

To facilitate their own vision, I often try to get street kids to visualize their own lives as a set of weighing scales. On the one side there is a dish, overflowing with negative experiences, which their past has accumulated. On the opposite side, a rather empty dish, with plenty of space for the unknown, many positive things to come. These scales represent a constant battle they are fighting, between the good and the bad, and it is our job to counterbalance all those antagonising experiences by providing security through the loving and caring that any decent human being is capable of giving, combined with basic norms for living a dignified lifestyle with necessary consequences, either positive or negative, depending on their own actions.

As time passes, the rather empty dish on the one side of our imaginary scale begins to outweigh the heavier dish on the other side, because, as with the bad memories in life, nobody can take away from us the positive experiences. Little by little, the good will overcome the bad, if not only in the imagination, ploughing the way to begin the real work recuperating a street child.


Roney
Roney, a street kid lost to the world.
Only time (and a great deal of effort and patience by those who are willing to take him on) will change his pathway and lead him on to a new lifestyle.




Angels of the Street
The essence of our work lies in the interest taken in and the knowledge of the personal situation of each child or young person right from the first moment he or she is in contact with our organisation.



Roney's Street Dog
Kids of the streets have a lot of affection for any stray animals they might come across, whom they immediately "adopt" to keep them company.



Claudiney & Roney - Will They Survive?
Brothers, 12-year-old Claudiney and 11-year-old Roney. Two street children among many, but will they survive?



Cousins and colleagues on the streets
Roney sometimes visits Hummingbird together with his cousin Alex, who is also on the streets.



Tough smiles from Roney and Claudiney
Rather tough smiles coming from Roney and Claudiney, two lives in transition at Hummingbird.



Claudiney & Roney
No matter how difficult their lives can be, there's always room for having some extra fun.



Roney and his pet puppy
Roney clings on to what he believes is the only innocent love he can find in his tormented life.


Nobody can take away from us the positive experiences
As with the bad memories in life, nobody can take away from Roney and Claudiney the positive experiences.


There is an introductory article about Roney and Claudiney elsewhere in our WeBlog. Hopefully there will be more positive developments to report later on.



Why not light a candle in your home, to represent a child in our Street Migration Prevention Programme in need of your support. The Hummingbird Activity Centre conducts a socially responsible proposal and needs your support. You can make a simple, safe online contribution by clicking here. All donations to our Street Children's Memorial Fund support this programme.

Diptych_Roney_01

16 Comments:

At 4:44 am, Blogger Papi said...

Amazing. I have always dreamt of doing work such as this. This inspires me. How does one get involved in work such as this? Im a re-entry college student,and I wonder what majors would work well with this sort of work. Currently I am in poli sci / int'l relations, but i wonder if sociology/nonprofit would be a better route. I'm definitely thinking of hands on work, working directly with people.

Applaude!

 
At 8:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

god im glad theres people willing
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Coming from someone who has known the streets yourself, I really cherish your comment on this article. Thanks for taking the time to write your feelings and tell me what this meant for you as a kid. Most valid!
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Basic Scholarships – USD$40.00 - $50.00 per month

Aimed at impoverished younger children participating in our Street Migration Prevention Programme, normally aged between 11 and 14 years of age. This scholarship guarantees their active participation at the Hummingbird Activity Center alongside their essential attendance in public schools. The scholarship helps combat child labor in high-risk families by preventing these children becoming new victims. The scholarship is awarded to those in particularly difficult life situations where survival often becomes a more important factor than the child’s educational needs and mental and physical health. As a regular sponsor you will have the opportunity to stay in contact with your scholarship holder and to follow the changes your sponsorship will be making in this child's life.

Intermediate Scholarships - USD$60.00 - $70.00 per month

This youth scholarship is aimed at developing vocational interests in young people as they grow with our programme, guaranteeing their commitment and eventually leading them on towards an advanced scholarship. A firmer step towards their personal life project. As a regular sponsor you will have the opportunity to stay in contact with your scholarship holder and to follow the changes your sponsorship will be making in this young person's life.

Advanced Scholarship - USD$80.00 - $100.00 per month

Aimed to inspire older youth reach their potential in whatever area they are developing natural or acquired abilities in programmes at the Hummingbird Activity Centre. The scholarship can be used to cover costs for supplementary, external educational courses or for extra training sessions and materials. Such funds would otherwise be an impossible priority for them to obtain within an impoverished family situation. As a regular sponsor you will have the opportunity to stay in contact with your scholarship holder and to follow the changes your sponsorship will be making in this young person's life.

"THE RICH MUST LIVE MORE SIMPLY SO THAT THE POOR MAY SIMPLY LIVE." - Mahatma Gandhi