Some Hope for Brazil's Abandoned Children

By Hillman, Elizabeth | Contemporary Review, April 1994 | Go to article overview

Some Hope for Brazil's Abandoned Children


Hillman, Elizabeth, Contemporary Review


THE streets of Rio de Janeiro have been peopled by abandonados -- children who have nowhere else to go -- for a number of years, but the problem was recently brought to the world's notice when armed men opened fire on a group of them sleeping in the city centre. Eight children were killed, and the whole shameful situation was publicised.

A few years ago, my husband and I visited Rio, and it was impossible to ignore these children, for they are everywhere, their bright, watchful eyes never still, looking for any opportunity to earn a little, to steal, or even just to survive.

Our hotel was on Copacabana, where most of the children hang out, for there the wealthy tourists congregate. Anyone owning a home, a complete set of clothes, has access to hot running water, and eats regularly falls into the rich category for these children, who feel, quite naturally, that to take money, jewellery, or cameras from such people is no great hardship for them, for such things can easily be replaced.

Our first encounter with these unfortunates occurred when we were strolling along the |promenade' one evening. We were surprised to hear a young shoeshine boy calling to us in English, a broad grin on his face. |Ey, meester, sheet on your shoe!' he called, and offered his services. On my husband's decent leather shoe was a lump of heavy grease; evidently the boy's accomplice had thrown it there with the skill of a stage magician, for we had noticed nothing. My husband angrily refused to pay for a shoeshine, but gave the boy a small-denomination note when he cheerfully provided a sheet of newspaper for us to remove the grease. The boy laughed, shrugged his shoulders philosophically, and went off to find another victim. We discovered that the boys are trained in every kind of trick, and were such experts at stealing that young men from all over South America were sent to Rio to study their skills. Gangs of children jostle adults, then run off, leaving behind watchless arms, ringless fingers, and handbags and pockets that have been slit along the bottom to release the contents into waiting hands.

Later, we lived in Rio for three years, and we got to know a little more about the street-children. We lived in Flamengo, a pleasant area away from the tourist beaches, so the abandonados that we encountered were mostly hard-working. Every Wednesday morning, there was a feira livre -- the fruit and vegetable market in the square at the end of the street, and there were always groups of children and young men asking if they could carry the shopping around the market and back to the customer's home. One or two of the upwardly-mobile lads had made remarkable big soap-box carts for the most affluent customers, and most had nailed on a car number-plate, presumably found in gutters or possibly removed from parked cars. One boy, who had evidently had a little schooling, had painted |Asa Delta' (|hang-glider') on his cart.

On one occasion when we took the rack-railway up through the forest in the middle of the city to stand below the statue of Christ Redeemer to admire the spectacular view, a couple of young boys, probably between eight and ten years old, hitched a ride, and we asked them where they lived.

|In the forest', they said.

|Alone?' we asked.

With some other abandonados, they responded indifferently. They seemed reasonably healthy, wearing the simple street uniform of a well-worn teeshirt and shorts, and certainly didn't seem to be starving. If they had to be paupers, there were certainly far worse places to be; they had constant sunshine, incredibly beautiful surroundings, a forest rich in fruits to explore (surely every boy's dream?), and a population that is, in general, the most friendly and good-hearted in the world.

I began to take note of these unfortunates, to see how they survived. By day, many find jobs at the beach carrying around cooler-chests or metal casks of cold drinks to sell to the beach-lovers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Some Hope for Brazil's Abandoned Children
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.