I decided to walk back from work today, having rid myself of the laptop and therefore having little cause for worry except for the usual vigilance while on the streets. On this walk I discover that my hotel is literally across the street from a favela.
Some of you have heard about favelas_and may think you hold an inkling of an idea of what a _favela is. You may translate it as “shanty town”, or “slum”, or “ghetto”.
There is no just analogy I can make in the English tongue, and these terms are wholly inappropriate comparisons anyway. The contrast is eye-opening while raising as many questions as there are holes in the explanation to us folk from outside of its well-defined but un-discussed borders. It’s not so much a can of worms as much as it’s a canoe full of piranhas. Not just repulsive and impossible to handle, but flat-out dangerous.
So I stick with what I see because there is nothing within those walls that I can know. And what I see is not a person who can’t get out, but rather one that doesn’t know to do it. What I see isn’t a debilitated street kid that the world has forgotten in his ruse of selling water bottles, but rather a kid who was never taught and never saw that there are other ways to do it.
Education. That’s the key element. He doesn’t even know that he is ignorant of the possibilities. And that’s the worst part of it all. On the other hand, that’s what keeps him going, or at least, keeps him from going mad in that desolate, utter and abject poverty.
I could tell you of the children that are impressed by pavement, by shoes, and by indoor plumbing. I could tell you that they’re impressed, not because they’ve never seen it or because they live in the jungle. They’ve just never come to rely on it, take it for granted. They don’t see the benefit of it, since they’ve never needed it. Fascinating, but they live without it. And living – surviving rather – is the standard by which they judge need.
It’s all just so unfair.