Monday, April 26, 2010

A New Season (Part 1)

And so a new season begins: here in Brazil (it is Autumn now and the shorter, drier days are a welcome break from the subtropical Summer) and at the rescue house. We have been planning the last two weeks for the last four months and this is why the border "incident" a few weeks back was such a jaw-dropper.

The court was duly notified, we pulled in every possible volunteer we could muster and prepared a week of activities for street boys to enjoy here at the rescue house. We called it an acampemento (a camp) but had the intention to extend invitations to those that wanted to stay permanently at the end of the week.

On Tuesday we went into the centre to invite some kids back to the camp. When we arrived, most of the children were surrounding a pitiful looking young man in a wheel chair. He had a bad wound to his leg that was seeping messily through a tangle of dirty bandages. A twisted catheter hung from his side. I felt a mixture of pity and astonishment at how he could come to live on the street (let alone survive), until I realised the reason for his "popularity" with the children. Out of another bag he began to dispense - someone clinically - small bottles of wood glue. Then I felt angry.

Of the small group, three boys took up the offer and on the way home I was squeezed into the back of the pick-up, with L, B and J (shown below, left to right).

Two of them fell asleep on my shoulders almost straight away; one staying awake long enough for this short exchange:

J: Where are you from?
L: England
J: Does God exist there?

I mean, you couldn't make this stuff up.

On arrival, not even the prospect of pizza could keep J awake. Disorientated (somewhat understandably) and full of fear, he went straight to bed. When asked the following morning, he said it was the first time he had slept in a bed for two years. The back of his head is a physical testimony to that: bald and raw from the concrete street.

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