Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sign of the Times

I used to follow the Dow... I watch the price of pastel

Last Night

I do not see what the current fascination is with the rescue house, but we had attempted "visitors" again last night.

I was woken at 5am by someone trying to break the back door down. It's a large metal affair which separates the grounds from the horta (vegetable garden) and makes a terrible racket when hit. After investigating, our uninvited guest had gone.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Saturday in the Park

I took some of the boys to Ibirapuera Park at the weekend

The Niemeyer structures make for excellent cycling...

...and photography!


I have so far restrained from encumbering my few (but precious!) readers with practical necessities here at Casa Elohim. Some very kind people have asked me in recent weeks what things are needed, though, and now seems as good a time as any and I thought it may be helpful to set them out out below (and, going forward, in a permanent - hopefully receding - column on the right of the screen):

Large Pyrex cooking dish
Durable plastic plates
Medium size plastic cups
Non-stick frying pan
Shoes (aged 7-15)
Flip-Flops (aged 7-15)
Clothes (aged 7-15)
Trainers/Sneakers (aged 7-15)
School materials
Art materials
Kite materials
Note pads/pens, etc for the office
Matress covers
Cartoon books
Coffee Cups
Salt/pepper and sugar containers

We are entirely dependent on voluntary donations and receive nothing from state or other government organizations here in São Paulo.

That nothwithstanding, I never fail to be amazed by the generosity of family, friends and...complete strangers when it comes to this work. All I can say is... THANK YOU for your continuing support! By the grace of God, you are helping to change these young boys' lives.

We are now entering a new season at the rescue home and are gearing-up for taking in new children from the streets in the new year. It is a crucial time.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

L & S

L smashed S's face against a wall this week. He'd been provoking him for the last few weeks, but I hadn't seen this coming. Resorting to physical violence in addition to psychological mischief is - I suppose - a final cry for attention (and dominance) in the same vein as self-harming.

S is older (and bigger) than L, but he chose to take the hits to his nose, cheek and lips. There was already a lot of blood by the time W raised the alarm and they both looked a mess because when S finally gave in (and pinned L to the ground) he stood over his face, bleeding.

S is the most harmless creature you could imagine, but I think that is exactly what threatens L. He envies S's quiet (probably inaccurately construed as "stable") nature and his position in Phase 3 (L was relegated to Phase 2 after his latest expulsion from school).

L is at a crucial stage in his life. Not only is he entering adolescence (as if that isn't enough grief), but this week marked his first full year here. He remembered to the day. A childhood marked by relationships temporary and sporadic: abandonment before ten, followed by various four month stints in state-run homes. Is it any wonder that he is struggling to develop "normal" relationships with those around him?

I was due to look after the boys following the lunchtime incident, and I tried to ask L about his motivations. He behaved well and we had an enjoyable time together, until the moment he put his hand to my nose and said proudly "that's S' blood".

At the disciplinary meeting the following day, he showed no remorse. Back sharply arched in his customary way (it's a habit developed on the street) he refused to accept any responsibility, although it was clear from the testimony of observers that he was solely to blame. Staring at the floor, one of the team told him how much he was loved and reminded him a little about his past and how his mum had abandoned him. He nodded slowly, eyes red with the beginning of tears. "And who will never abandon you?" she asked him. "God will never abandon me" he said in a broken voice.

L hugged each of the team and he then apologized to S. He was given a discipline for the following week. Let's see how it goes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Intruder

I woke just before five to see Stevie tangled in one of the goal nets outside my window. I sighed and then received a call on my phone. It was Daniel who lives upstairs, warning me not to leave the house.

Moments before, he'd heard a commotion in the grounds. Tango had been barking, but then stopped abruptly and it sounded like someone was beating him (he sleeps beneath my window, so evidently the ear plugs were in a little too tight). When Daniel looked out his window, he saw a large man wearing a mask creeping around the grounds. He said he'd called the police.

By the time I had grabbed my heavy-duty Maglite (we can't afford le creuset in the kitchen), the buzzer went and the police were here. I don't know if I was more shocked by their response time or my willingness to venture outside. In any event, before long they were searching the grounds film noir style - guns poised.

They didn't find anyone. He probably skipped over the back gate. I checked the boys' rooms just in case (I even checked the top bunk of the quadruple bunk bed we have in Phase 1). Nothing.

It now occurs to me that maybe the intruder tied up Stevie deliberately. But I don't like to dwell on these things.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Random Observations #3

Above the parrots today is a sound like that of a million mosquitoes on the horizon. Helicopters punctuate the din (ferrying VIPs, no doubt). It can only be grand prix season.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Random Observations #2

I sleep on the lower level of a bunk bed. Above my head as I sleep are the words, scrawled in biro: LOVE WITHOUT AN AGENDA.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Strange Fruit

My favorite berry has to be the jamelão (left). Very sweet when swollen and fully ripe, but with a subtle sourness that lingers. A bit like these (but in the opposite direction). We have a modest tree in the grounds. The berry to the right is a cereja, which has a taste which I can only describe as akin to eating a flower. Maybe it is a flower, come to think of it.

Editors note: the dead mosquito was not added for scale, it just keeled over in-shot)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Digging Ditches

More construction. New waste pipes are being laid at Casa Elohim and Glen and his team (who built Bruno and Caio's house) are on the job again - so you know it's going to be done properly. I am glad to get an opportunity to skip the gym and do some real manual work for a change. I simply don't know how these guys do it. The soil near the lake contains a lot of clay, making the soil seem twice as heavy than it is. Totally exhausting, but it should be done by the end of the week.

it started off looking curiously like a grave...

L helped out with the back-breaking work

is it art?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Random Observations #1

I saw a man snatch a piece of bread from a dog in the street this morning.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I bumped into W yesterday. The team have known him for some time, but now he is a boy of 10 or 11 years. He's the one on the far left of the photo (taken on our first day of street hockey back in the autumn).

He lost half his left leg a few years ago while riding the tracks to the beach (the kids perilously cling to the cargo trains as they make their way to the port of Santos - the nearest praia). What is left is a messy stump, but he plays hockey with the rest of the kids, with a crutch and a lot of zeal.

He took a great interest in why I had been home and where my parents lived. In fact, he wouldn't stop going on and on about them. I never fail to be amazed how these kids long for a family. More than the independence of the streets. More than the drugs, even. I hope we see him on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

How I learned to stop worrying and love the mosquitoes

with a problem like this, resistence is futile