Monday, March 28, 2011

Rio de Janeiro :: Street kids

We gave these kids a bit of change and some fried cheese my brother was eating. 

I started to walk away to find another beer and to forget about them. Instead, I found myself standing across the street from them, watching. I wanted something from them. 

They were handsome, with intelligent eyes. And gifted actors as well - their faces and actions fleeting quickly and effortlessly through a range of emotions. Some real, some contrived. 

They lived on the street. Their teeth were rotting and they had swollen scars in strange places. One of them wore a glittery lace purse around his waist that he had stolen or found. But their smiles glowed. They were living proof that happiness is relative, and can be found in the most unlikely of places. 

I knew what I needed from them. Pulling out the camera again I tried to distill the chaos of their actions to reveal that simple lesson.  I was surprised to find I had something to give them in return, as their initial mistrust dissipated, and was replaced by proud cavorting and clowning as the presence of the camera, my willingness to sit with them, and curiosity about what they were doing gave them a sense of worth and importance that I hope had as lasting an impact on them as their actions had upon me. 

Read more about the plight of street kids in Rio