The longest day of the year

So it’s officially summer here in Brazil, with temperatures in the 100-110 range, kids getting out of school, Christmas parties in full swing, and me tired and hot and sweaty.

There is a project in my neighborhood/favela which provides a before/after school type of program for young kids. Today was its Christmas party, and we were over there helping out. It’s always a blast being there – the staff is hilarious, and the kids are lots of fun (when they’re not being punks. But that’s the fun of being a kid sometimes, isn’t it?) Most come from poor to extremely poor households, and also have to deal with living in a violent community.

For example, when was the last time you heard the party planner say something like the following… “Then, at the end of the day, we’ll go outside to the soccer field and sing ‘Silent Night’ and throw candy to all the children. It’ll be the grand finale. Unless it’s raining. Or if there’s a shoot-out between the police and the drug-dealers…”

One of the boys today asked for a stool to sit on “because my feet hurt.” “What happened?” “I got shot.” The story came out that he was playing with his younger brother when the police invaded and a small gunfight began between the bandidos and the five-o. This young boy ran and grabbed his small brother, pulled him out of the crossfire, saved his life, and was shot through both his feet. Merry Christmas – and peace on earth… We need it here. Hopefully we can avoid a repeat of last Christmas, when the Military Police drove through at night shooting things up and yelling “Ho-ho-ho, Merry Christmas from Santa Claus.”

While much is running through my head, I will close for now – and if I don’t get back to you before Christmas internet, you be good. I’ll miss you as I travel to Minas (the state next to Rio) to spend Christmas with the family of some friends from town. And don’t worry, I’ll be back soon with all kinds of fun adventures.

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