Author: Loyd Jenkins
“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
With the Olympics comes a multi-billion-dollar investment at stake in every country that hosts it. Brazil is no exception. And as any country, Brazil wants to stage a successful Olympic Games come August. The government is fast-designing and building new transportation and sports venues, hiring security guards, deploying soldiers and giving Rio de Janeiro’s most visited areas some curb-side appeal.
Sadly, along with all the construction and sprucing up, there is another project going on in order to make sure the yard is picked-up, clean and neat. It is a project that is ironically called “cleaning the streets.” It doesn’t have anything to do with getting rubbish off the roads, or making sure all the bins are upright with their lids appropriately on top. It’s an effort to sweep away the homeless, many of whom are children.
The Copacabana and Maracana areas are preparing to host the Olympics. There, children as young as seven sleep by the roadside and spend their days begging for change. Most of the children are addicted to drugs—primarily sniffing glue because it’s cheap—and many join gangs or turn to prostitution. It’s a side of Brazil that the country is hoping to hide from the cameras this summer. The image Brazil is attempting to conjure is one of safety, happiness and that everything is all right.
“The government will make a plan, a huge plan for the Olympic games, with the police and military charged with cleaning the streets, to make sure no child is on the streets in order for everything to be beautiful,” said Daniel Medeiros, a child advocate volunteer for Happy Child International. Government officials say the security preparations, which includes clearing out the street children, are critical to ensure tourist safety. However, according to Medeiros, the cleanup is making life worse for the street children where the police are arbitrarily detaining the children—and in some cases the children are vanishing.
So while we watch and celebrate the Olympic games and revel in the excitement and grandeur of the win– and the exotic locations of the games– we must remember those that are suffering. Street-people everywhere tend to be ignored and sometimes not even seen. We can walk past them in nearly every city without much of a thought. We just have to open our eyes and our hearts and allow God to move us.