A day playing with Brazilian crianças
It's funny how Brazilians have a different date for almost every typical western celebration. For example, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on June 12th and Father’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of August. Children’s day (Dia das crianças) is a pretty big event in Brazil too and it is celebrated on October 12th.
As part of this year Children’s Day, my field partner in Sao Paulo, Banco do Povo Credito Solidario, sponsored a day playing with Brazilian kids ("crianças" in Portuguese), from an impoverished area in Sao Paulo. From 9:30 till 4pm, volunteers gathered in a specific street (or "rua" in Portuguese) to play with kids from different ages who were accompanied by their parents. Many different activities were held during the day: painting, jumping rope, dancing (there was a stage and a band), kids could have their faces painted, girls could get free manicures, etc.
Some volunteers also provided kids with free popcorn, cotton candy and sweets while they were playing around. I myself was in charge of painting kids’ faces. One of the kids asked me to paint his face like the joker, other kids wanted to have butterflies. Even though I was really good at painting when I was in school, I certainly found face painting much more difficult than my previous art endeavors!
All together, I painted some butterflies, a joker, some kids’ names on their arms, etc. I also spent some time in the drawing and painting section where kids were painting themselves or their families on a piece of paper, perhaps drawing a dog and a cat, etc. This day, sponsored by my field partner, brought together kids and their families that do not have the financial resources to buy candy or popcorn on a regular basis, or to take kids to get a manicure. Therefore, it was a great moment for them to experience some fun and escape from their daily reality and struggles.
Brazil’s income inequality is still quite high – “the income gap between the country’s top and bottom decile remains about five times as wide as in advanced economies. Brazil must still do much more to ensure that its GDP growth translates into broad-based improvement in living standards”. This is one of the reasons why the country still lags behind other economies; not only income inequality but also inequality in education, which is appalling. You have kids running around who do not receive good education and many of them join gangs in the well-known ‘favelas’ (Brazilian slums) where they end up growing up with crime and narcotics.
Usually, Brazilian entrepreneurs who get funded by Kiva mention that they dream about giving their kids a proper education so they can have a better future than they had. It is a recurring phrase that I’ve heard from parents who work so hard because they don’t want their kids to end up in a gang or favela. Hopefully, with more lenders supporting Kiva, this dream will come true too!