Tuesday, March 23, 2010


"To understand God's thoughts we must study statistics, for these are the measure of his purpose." (Florence Nightingale)

Statistics can’t bring the reality of life on the street to your office or home (where you might be reading this), but here are a few things you might not know:
  • UNICEF has estimated that there are at least 100 million children growing up on urban streets around the world
  • 93% of street girls in Rwanda reported having been raped
  • In Southern and Eastern Africa the majority of street children are between 9-14 years old
  • 82% of street children in Cairo are on the streets due to child abuse at home or at work
  • 100,000 children run away from home in the UK each year, with 1 in every 6 sleeping on the streets
  • 77.9% of street children in Russia are involved in work which is dangerous to their health
  • 70% of street children in Cairo said that they use drugs to relieve the pressure from being on the street
  • In Brazzaville, Congo, almost 50% of street children are orphans
  • It is estimated that between 15-20% of street children in Vietnam are HIV positive
  • Orphanages in Ukraine say that 97% of children leaving their institutions become homeless
  • There are an estimated 1-2 million street-involved youth in the USA
  • In 2008-2009 a child was abandoned in Guatemala City every 4 days. Most were babies
Source: UNICEF/The Consortium for Street Children

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A melancholy month

Some friends have expressed concern in recent weeks that my postings have seemed somewhat introspective. A little...sombre.

I never intended this blog to be some kind of greatest hits of my experience here in São Paulo. In my teens I started a diary but soon found that I was aggressively self-editing my entries. Looking back on those few pages, my adolescence would appear to be some sort of utopian vision of youth. Good grief.

It has been a difficult month. A very difficult month. With the team and with the children. But God is sovereign in every situation, in every circumstance and by His strength I press on.

the 28kg jumbo pack says it all

Sunday, March 14, 2010


This week, my good Scottish friend Robert told me about some recent events in his road. A young mentally disturbed man who has (up until this point) lived a quiet and somewhat uneventful life with his equally troubled mother in a neighbouring house, has recently been vandalizing cars and sexually assaulting women in the street. The mental care authorities have so far been unable to stabilize his condition and efforts to “section” him have resulting in periodic but unsustained containment. When Robert’s car window was smashed he therefore decided to call the police. After listening sympathetically to the officer’s explanation of the local force's futile attempts to deal with the recent difficulties, Robert and his brother-in-law stood aghast as the officer explained the best way of dealing with the problem: “What you should do in these circumstances is to get a few mates together, bind him up with some rope and then take a baseball bat, smash his skull in and put him in the sewer.”

These are thoughts which a frustrated law enforcement officer may have during his very darkest moments, but this man – with all seriousness – articulated them.

With authorities like this, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pé de moleque

It now appears my previous sentiments are nothing new. I came across one of those hard toffee-with-nuts sweets yesterday. The name? Pé de moleque (poor kid's feet). It seems that not only is this witty labelling par excellence, but a veritable institution here in confectionary terms.

feet, anyone?


My clothes are rotting from the damp.
The Nikon is knocked off a wall and the lens cracks.
A smile is left unreciprocated.
W tears one of the new cushions, emptying its contents.
L lets loose a diatribe of insults and profanities to my face.

Today I need reminding that

Friday, March 5, 2010

Children, parents, grandparents

"The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is one of the most rewarding in family life and the government is no doubt correct to ensure that grandparents have the right of access. But if an absent father or a grandparent can only have access to a child by invoking the law, and if their meetings are overlaid by resentment, rancour or parental quarrelling, surely the encounter will only do harm. Governments tend to believe that social evils can be cured by money or legislation, but they are wrong. What children want is for their parents to love each other, and if that is no longer possible, at least to act with kindness."

P.D. James - The Spectator, 30 January 2010