Brazil : part 3 : becoming an honorary Kenyan

Glad's house - VickyI first met Vicky Ferguson of Glad’s House, Kenya, when we had the training weekend away for Street Child World Cup. First impressions – huge smile, huge personality and huge warmth. I was spot on!

Vicky puts her whole heart and being into running Glad’s House in Mombasa, Kenya. The house had a football team at Rio in the Street Child World Cup. Such nice guys, so intent on improving their prospects and opportunities. They were an inspiration.

Glad's house - JanGlad's house - CliffGlad's house - JohnAnyway, Jan and Clifford Ferguson (Vicky’s parents) were there, as they are trustees, as is the lovely John McGlasson who was also there coaching the boys on.

Jan and I shared so many tears and so much laughter, but she seems to think that she can call me ‘the old girl’ as I am one month older . . . sharp intake of breath!

Glad's house - BokeyAlso with the team was Bokey, seen wearing a whistle around his neck in the photograph. Bokey is an ex boxer who now spends his time with Glad’s House. He is as inspirational as the boys – friend, mentor, guide and protector all wrapped up in one.

As we’ve said before, SCWC works with local charities and agencies to find solutions to improve the lives of all homeless children in that country. Glad’s House is the local charity it works with in Kenya.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with them in Rio – I know it sounds as if I’m gushing, but they are all absolutely fabulous. They have the special gift to make you feel good. Bokey wanted to know whether it was raining on the day I was born, on being told it was, the next day I was given the honorary Kenyan name of Okoth, born in the rain. Imagine that, me given a swahili name!

Sadly, Mombasa has thousands of young people living on the streets, who are struggling for survival. Glad’s House tries to help them reach their full potential. The following bullet points are from their web page.

  • We try to reunite children with their families using our team of social workers. Alternatively, we place the children with foster families.

  • We place the children in full-time education. We also support higher education for them.

  • We use our sports programmes to engage with the children & youths and provide practical and emotional support.

  • Our enterprise schemes provide training and apprenticeships for young adults.

These children have suffered violence, abuse and may other unimaginable things. But despite all of that, they are willing to trust again and go forward with a new purpose. They’re inspirational. And no child should live on the streets, every single one deserves to be given a good chance in life.

I have a just giving page for the Street Child World Cup and as their work goes on all year round, please feel free to make donations as often as you would like!

Brazil : part 2 : as a visitor

Brazil Christoscwc at ChristoHow many people have seen the pictures of Christo – Christ the Redeemer – and wanted to go there? I was one of the lucky ones, I did.

The title of this post is as a visitor, but I really did not explore Brazil as I would have done as a tourist. I went with the Street Child World Cup organisation as a volunteer for the two weeks of the football tournament and the conferences. We stayed in large and safe sports facilities at Espaço in Lonier, which was about an hour from the airport.

I can, however, write about a couple of the times we did go out and my thoughts on these experiences.

The visit to Christo was done on two days. The girls teams went one day with half the volunteers and the boys teams went the next with the other volunteers – Lynne with an ‘e’ and Lynn without an ‘e’ included, as you can see from the picture.

It was a massive achievement to get us all there and all back, especially as you have to change buses half way up as only the official ones go to the top. Went in the seat next to the driver on the way up, and down too. Sounds like nothing special, but believe me, on those hairpin bends all the way up and down it most definitely pushed your comfort barriers!

Christo was an incredible experience, being there as part of an amazing team of people, made it all the better. We had a drone photographing all that was happening and the results were spectacular – the main photo on part 1 is one example.

Travelling through to the places we visited, you can see the lack of refurbishment and the neglect of huge parts of Rio. The rich get richer and the poor are just shoo-shooed away if they become a nuisance.

brazil more love pleaseThe second trip out was with the boys teams and we went to the favela of Vidigal. Wow, what an incredulous day that was! Incredulous because it showed the huge chasms in Brazilian society and incredulous because it really was an eye-opening and truth-defining time.

Near the bottom, it takes about an hour and a half or more to walk to the top, was this sign – ‘more love please’ – definitely fitting.

There were going to be three stops on the way up for people to get their breath back. At the first water stop, two of the injured boys were going the rest of the way in a minibus. Jan Ferguson (Mum to the lovely Vicky Ferguson of Glad’s House) and I thought we would go too, so we could keep an eye on them. Nothing to do with us being over 25, of course; we were just being considerate of others.

Brazil MarcelloAt that first stop we met Marcello, who had been in the film ‘City of God‘. If you haven’t seen that film do watch it; based on a true story, it tells of the lives of the teenagers in Rio – very raw.

Marcello and friends formed a dance and music troupe and encourage children from the favelas to become part of it. Keeps them away from the street gangs.

Vidigal is officially described as ‘pacified’ by the authorities. This means that the favela now has a police presence and, supposedly, no gangs terrorising the inhabitants. Horrible description, ‘pacified’, and says a lot about the society out in Brazil.

brazil vidigal 3brazil vidigal 2These people may not be shown any respect by the powers that be, but they were lovely, proud and friendly with us. The houses were made of whatever they could build them with, so there was a huge array of styles and stableness.

And at the end of the day, we exited down and onto the street where Vidigal is hidden from the hotel and big houses.

The challenge Brazil now has is that, where the favelas have been built, it’s prime real estate land and the corporate building boys want to replace the favelas with big, expensive housing. They may well get their way in some instances, as they’re building Olympic villages for the athletes for 2016. From what I understand, they’re telling the people from the favelas that they can move into them, after the games. Immorally, and horrendously, they will do this without telling them that they’ve already sold them on to private agents at an appropriate time afterwards.  I do hope that isn’t correct, because these proud people will then be homeless and in a far worse situation than the favelas they’ll move from. But the future is not looking good whatever happens.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.   Edmund Burke

Unfortunately the good men are not in positions of power and so, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.