The most interesting thing that I learned today in school was about the violence in Brazil amongst street children and the obvious imbalance between the spread of wealth between the favelas (shanty towns) and Rio de Janiero. It seems that everyday I am reminded of how little I actually know about the world around me. When I think of Brazil I think of gorgeous girls, like Camilla Belle and Gisele Bundchen. I think of beaches, sun, bright colors, happy-go-lucky people. I feel like a complete idiot for having some glamorized version of life around the world. There are massacres that are happening every day in Rio, there are children running away from home to live on the streets because they can make more money trafficking drugs in one week than they could in months. I have never felt so useless than I did today watching those videos. There is nothing I can do, and yet I want to do something, anything, to help these people. But there is no solution. Not an obvious solution, at least.
One of my classmates lived in Brazil for a year and visited the favelas and heard some stories from people about the street children, as they’re called. A family from America had some street children come live with them, hoping to change their lives in some way, but the kids were immediately drawn to the “bad” kids in school, the drug dealers and such, because in their society the drug dealers held the power. The American family didn’t know what to do about the problem so they sent them back to Brazil.
In 1993 there was a massacre in Rio in which the police killed 20 innocent people because days earlier some drug dealers had murdered four police officers that were terrorizing the neighborhood. During a radio program that same year, the hosts held an unscientific survey in which they asked people how they felt about the massacre, and the majority of the people said that it was a good thing that the street children had been killed and they needed to “get rid of them.”
Between 1987 and 2001, 3937 Brazilian minors were killed compared to 467 Israeli and Palestinian minors.
I’m not trying to preach to anyone, or educate anyone on the streets of Brazil because this is the extent of my knowledge on the subject, and I admit that without shame. I’m just trying to wrap my mind around these facts and figures. There is no solution in my mind and it’s frustrating to me, and completely discouraging. I don’t understand how this can be happening anywhere in the world and how people in Brazil can turn a blind eye to it. It pisses me off beyond belief to think that somewhere in the world there are people justifying murder–both the drug dealers who kill and the police who kill.
In the words of Marvin Gaye, “What the [f—] is going on?”
When asked what they wanted the children on the streets replied a home and blankets.
For the umpteenth time this week I feel my heart breaking on account of stories that I’ve heard or read. I want so badly to be able to comfort them and take them away from the streets and put them in an environment of nurturing and loving, instead of fear and violence. It’s just…not fair. I want to stomp my feet and march around the room yelling “IT’S NOT FAIR!” I want my words to have the same impact they had when I was a stubborn child yelling at my parents about some inconsequential decision they made that I had some problem with. I want to yell “It’s not fair!” and I want someone to immediately make the situation right in my eyes.
I can’t stop thinking about how unfair it all is and I hope, with all sincerity, that someday I will be able to make the world a little more fair for everyone. Even if it’s in some tiny way, I want to help the world.
I am having a hard time deciding on a major because I want to pick a major that will better prepare me to be a helpful citizen of the world, and I feel that every major that I’ve considered is really self-serving. I don’t know what to do, and this is already much too long of a post, so I must stop writing now.
Today the weather was beautiful. Classes seemed to go by quickly and easily. It was a good day.