Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I miss the beach

MJ (by S)

Children around the world are paying tribute to the King of Pop.



Some better than others.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Lunch

For an easy Sunday Lunch I heartily recommend Salin's Bar. Hands down the best rotisserie chicken in Zona Sul (and there is a lot of competition -- there are almost as many fried chicken places here as there are replacement tire shops). The friendly chicken clutching the telephone says it all. It can't wait to be skewered.

And while we're on the subject, I think they should be commended for not using a single exclamation mark in their publicity materials (despite the liberal use of explosive stars). I think they should work on the name though. It's a little...matter of fact. The best name for a fried chicken joint I've seen was in New York -- it was a chain of restaurants called Pluck You. There was a Pluck You on 9th Av just round the corner from my apartment and I remember seeing a Pluck You II in the East Village. I usually despise restaurants with "sequels", but I'll make an exception in this instance because of its sheer classiness.

I digress. Good chicken comes at a cost. Not the R$11 (£3) part. The trick with Salin's is to make sure that you are positioned in line so that the sunlight comes in the window behind the guy who's slicing and dicing your chicken. That way you can see without obstruction the direction of the phlegm discharged when he coughs, thus leaving you to choose which chicken you take home with wisdom and hygiene.

And when the sun doesn't shine? Best not to go.

Nicknames

It is nothing new to say that kids can be cruel.

Here, each of the boys, no matter how disturbed their background, is named (and shamed) by the others.

W is Baleia (whale), S is Cavalo (horse), L is Dumbo (after the elephant) etc. etc.

My given name? Cabeça de Ovo - very loosely translated as EGGHEAD.

I can't think why.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Don't worry, the kids won't bite*

*but if they do, we're trained in release techniques!

On Tuesday afternoons we pack some drinks and snacks and head into the centre [of the centre], set up some goal posts under one of the bridges, (right in front of the Mayor's plush offices) and play hockey with the street kids.

Yesterday we had between 15 to 20 kids dropping by to hit a ball around for a couple of hours. Afterwards we share some cake and juice and - if circumstances allow - five minutes of what we believe in and why we are there.

Some kids come to kill time. Some to take a break from begging. Some just for a piece of cake. Sadly, I am now used to the sight of children (averaging 10-12 years old) taking breaks from the game to inhale some glue or smoke a cigarette. I wanted the initial shock of witnessing this - the kids often look no older than my nephews (their growth stunted by their mother's drug abuse while pregnant) - to remain, but how good the mind is at clothing such horrors with dull familiarity.

not quite favela foot, but getting there

I enjoy just hanging out with the kids, chewing the fat and passing the time. Joyce, Alexander, Wanderley, Kennedy, Carol... do these names mean anything to anyone? Does anyone know their stories? Are they even on a Government register somewhere? A birth? A death?

Some of the kids have already lived in multiple shelters, some of the girls have already had children and abandoned them. Others have lived on the streets for years, the product of fragmented (and often abusive) families. One of the kids we spoke to yesterday evening had hit the street that very same day.


The most recent figures indicate that there are between seven and eight million street children in Brazil. Working in and around Anhangabaú (I still have difficulty pronouncing the indigenous name retained for the very core of the old city) - watching the kids in their little ad hoc gatherings - in few places is it more self-evident that sin begets sin. It goes a little like this: Child abuse/neglect at home → children leave home (families divided) → drug addiction on street → older children sell drugs to younger children → child prostitution (to fuel drug addiction) → paedophiles/other predators → children become pregnant/abort their own children → children born on street placed in care.

This is the context of my work here in São Paulo.
These are the children I am called to work with.

"If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered."
Proverbs 21:13

Time to Go

No, not me...the facial fur!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stevie

At long last, Stevie has grown too big to fit through the gaps of his enclosure._Sleep, restored.

Amen

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Surely deserving of a Purple Heart

Despite rippling back muscles, Action Man is no match for Tango

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Don't have a cow, man

While cycling with B and C this morning I spotted a man trying to surreptitiously milk one of the wild cows by the lake. A sad and peculiar sight.