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, 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.
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.
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.
Brothers, 12-year-old Claudiney and 11-year-old Roney. Two street children among many, but will they survive?
Roney sometimes visits Hummingbird together with his cousin Alex, who is also on the streets.
Rather tough smiles coming from Roney and Claudiney, two lives in transition at Hummingbird.
No matter how difficult their lives can be, there's always room for having some extra fun.
Roney clings on to what he believes is the only innocent love he can find in his tormented life.