WHAT IS THE PABLOIS FRIENDS FOUNDATION?
As the name suggests, this foundation was created by a group of friends wanting to pay homage to a little boy whom they loved so much but who had lost his almost two year long battle with cancer (Neuroblastoma). When Pablo left us in 1992, he was only five and a half years old. This little boy was my son... and the love of my life. His life may have been cut short but, in his memory, many other children can be saved. Pablo’s Friends will help the most disenfranchised children on this planet. Street children have no families, no homes, no food, no help and absolutely no hope. In order to survive in the streets, they beg for money, try to work for very little money, and, of course, they steal. These children can be found in poor countries all over the world.
WHAT IS AN ORPHAN STREET CHILD?
I moved to Brazil from France in 1978. Every day during the ten years that I lived in Rio de Janeiro, my heart would break at the sight of these children living in the street. In order to convey the tragic reality of these street kids, I have chosen to share four stories of children that are imprinted in my memory and that I will never forget. I had just arrived in Rio and I was looking for a job. I made an appointment to meet with Jacqueline, a French woman who was looking for a person to replace her during her vacation in France. We had just begun our lunch at a Copacabana terrace restaurant when I noticed five kids sitting on a bench wall, looking at us. They were obviously waiting for something. I turned to Jacqueline, who had been living in Brazil for a long time, and asked her about the children. She told me that Street Kids always wait for people to finish eating to see if there is something left on the plates. Before the waiter can clean the table, they hurry to take whatever food is left. It was always a race between the kids and the waiters, who hated them, because the kids not only took the food, but also took the tips. Once I realized why these kids were staring at us, I lost my appetite but immediately thought of a solution. I called the kids to come to our table. Confused and reluctant, they approached us. I invited them to sit at the table next to us and then I called the waiter to come and bring the menus. He nearly fainted when he saw who was seated at one of his tables. Disgusted, the waiter handed menus to the children. I soon realized that the kids could not read. I asked them what they wanted, and then quickly realized that, in their hunger, anything would please them. I decided to order five different dishes and drinks for them all. When I went back to my table, Jacqueline looked at me, smiling, and said, “If you start this you are going to be poor very quickly. You will have no money left for you.” I knew she was right, but this was the only way for me to eat without feeling guilty. Besides, the kids at the next table were eating with so much pleasure! Dirty fingers were
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going into each other’s plate, trying each other’s food but fast • like they were afraid that the food could be taken away from them at any moment. At the end of their lunch, each plate was sparkling clean – not a morsel left for the other street kids. Then they all came to our table to say many “thanks” and they left running and laughing with joy. My second street story took place much later in time.
I was walking back to my work in downtown Rio after a lovely luncheon with a friend when I saw a scene I shall never forget. There were three small children, one standing on top of another one’s shoulders with barely enough height to reach into the top of a huge dumpster in the back of an Italian restaurant. They were attempting to dig into it to retrieve spaghetti. The smallest child at the top was dropping the handfuls of spaghetti into a plastic bag held by another child on the pavement. Tears came to my eyes and I arrived at work extremely saddened by what I had just witnessed. I thought how easy it was for me to take my lovely lunch for granted.
My third story also occurred in downtown Rio as I was walking back to my office. I was returning from the bank when, across the street, I saw a lovely young girl coming out from between cars in a parking lot. She was not more than eight or ten years old. In one hand she held what looked like a piece of paper and with it she was cleaning herself between her legs with a face of total disgust, while in the other hand she had the equivalent of a dollar. Behind her an old man was zipping up his pants. From across the street, I shouted at the man in a rage, “ Seu porco, Seu porco!” (You pig, You pig!), but he did not hear my words. They were lost in the noise of the traffic, only to be heard by the people passing by on my side of the street. They looked at me as if I were deranged. I felt deranged, and angry, and very, very sad.
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This last story is truly the saddest one for me. It was a very early morning of Carnival when we encountered the child that I will call Pedro, for I never knew his real name. My then husband, Antonio, and I were walking back home from a party. Soaking wet, we were enjoying the early morning tropical rain in Ipanema. Our path then crossed the path of Pedro. He was very young, so fragile, lying in a fetal position trying to protect himself from the heavy rain by lying up against the door of a store. He was crying so hard and so desperately that we both stopped, touched by his tears.
“WHY ARE YOU CRYING? ARE YOU LOST? WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS? ARE YOU HUNGRY?” EACH OF OUR QUESTIONS REMAINED UNANSWERED. “Why are you crying? Are you lost? Where are your parents? Are you hungry?” But each of our questions remained unanswered, the only reply, his tears. We abandoned him to his sorrow, sadden by this scene, and while waiting for a green light to cross the street, his cries continued to haunt me. I ran back to him and said: “If you are hungry, if you want to be dry, why don’t you come with us?” Again, I got no answer from him, so I left. We had barely crossed the street when we realized that the child was following us. We did not look back because we did not want to scare him. When we arrived at our building, we left the front door ajar and did the same with our apartment door. We did not have to wait very long before a little head popped in. I offered him a hot bath but I realized that he had no idea what I was talking about. I ran the water, put in bath soap and let Antonio help him into the tub. For a good hour our apartment was filled with shouts of joy and the sound of splashing water. When at last he came out of the bathroom covered in foam, I found as much water on the floor as there was in the tub! Then I cooked him a breakfast. While he gulped down the food, Antonio tried to learn something about him. What was his name, where did he lived, where was his family but he didn’t seem to trust us. What he told us was very vague, nothing that could help us to locate his family if he even had one. Then, like all the kids of his age when they are tired, he just fell asleep so we tucked him into bed and we took a nap ourselves. When we awoke, we found the door ajar and the boy was gone. We felt sad because we knew nothing about him. 6PABLOIS FRIENDS - 2011
The next Saturday morning we were awakened by the constant ringing of our doorbell at six in the morning. I opened the door, half asleep, and there was “Pedro”. He was all happy, saying “It’s me!” This time Pedro spent the whole weekend with us, and eventually, these visits became a ritual. Pedro was easy to deal with and seemed to be happy with everything we did for him. He figured out that we were at work during the week but he knew we were at home on the weekends. But even after spending so much time with us, he still did not seem to trust us. Antonio and I started to become attached to this child and so we began talking about adopting him. Then one day, a few months later, he disappeared and no amount of searching turned up any clues to where he was or what might have happened to him. We spoke to other street kids but they knew nothing. We were devastated at the thought of what could have happened to him. It broke our hearts that we might never see him again.
MAO BRANCA WAS A PARAMILITARY GROUP THAT ASSASSINATED STREET CHILDREN WITHOUT THE AUTHORITIES DOING ANYTHING. Was he a victim of the “Mao Branca” (The White Hand)? Mao Branca was a paramilitary group that assassinated street children without the authorities doing anything. This group picked up Street Kids at night while they slept, put them in trucks, and took them from the city to an abandoned area, where they tied their hands behind their backs and shot them in the head. The worst part is that most of the time the abductors were paid by shopkeepers who found these kids a nuisance. They wanted them away from the front of their stores because the kids often stole from them but also frighten customers away. So, with no thought of the children’s plight in life, they decided that the best solution to the problem was to get rid of them. The first time I saw this terrible issue addressed in the newspapers was after the “Mao Branca” assassinated scores of children with machine guns • children who were asleep on the pavement in front of the Church of the Candelaria in downtown Rio. Even if the “Mao Branca” is no longer, this kind of tragedy continues to happen. The disappearance of Pedro, without knowing what had happened to him, was so disturbing to me that I made a promise to myself that one day I would open a center for these abandoned street children. What I did not know at that time was that this promise was going to keep me alive and help me to survive the loss of my two children. Now I am on a journey to finally realize the dream I have had for the last twenty plus years. PABLOIS FRIENDS - 2011
WHY MEXICO AND NOT BRAZIL?
WHAT IS THE AGE RANGE FOR THE CHILDREN THAT WE WILL TAKE INTO THE CENTER?
Life once again chose the path to my destiny. In order for my husband to stay close to his family, (he has two children and five grandchildren in Los Angeles,) Mexico seemed the best place for us to open our first Center. Our first Center will open in Mexico in a small fishermanâ€™s village called La Ventana. La Ventana is one hour from La Paz, an easy flight from Los Angeles. Of course, Rio de Janeiro will stay on our list, along with other countries.
Obviously, the street children are concentrated in the big cities. In Mexico, we will retrieve them from the garbage dumps where they congregate and, since the youngest children are the ones who suffer the most, we will concentrate on them. Living on the streets at such a young age is the most dangerous and precarious way of life. Most of the money the youngest children get is stolen from them from the older kids. The young ones are beaten and often sexually abused. The relationship between the youngest kids and the older ones is the same as between a pimp and his prostitute. The older kids will protect them but also abuse them. In addition, these young children often sniff shoe glue so that they can forget their hunger and the reality of their miserable lives. The longer they sniff glue, the more they destroy their brain cells. So getting these young children off the streets as early as possible will not only save their lives but also save their health and give them the possibility of a real future. Of course, in order to retrieve the children from the streets, we will work together with Mexican organizations.
IF YOU LIKE OUR PROJECT, HOW CAN YOU PARTICIPATE?
• F rom the moment a child enters our Center, our goal will be that the child will eventually leave as a young adult with a skill that will help him or her support their new life. • T o educate the children, we plan to use several methods including the Montessori, the Brazilian “Paolo Freire” Method, the Summerhill and others progressive teaching methods. • W e already have two wonderful people who are interested in working in our Center. They both have years of experience with street children. One of them is a psychologist and both are fluent in Spanish. One of them also speaks fluent French and English. • O ur Center will focus on the Arts, including artisan and craftsman trades and professions. • Art is also an excellent way to explore emotions. • M exico and Europe have very skilled Artisans and Craftspeople who are saddened that young people do not want to follow in their footsteps. Art and crafts skills are taught to apprentices and journeymen who can then create their own work. • A fter our children have grown up at the Center, have an education and are young adults, we will have them taught by master craftsmen in Mexico and Europe, however the Center will always be their home and we will always be their family. Of course, if a child shows a desire to do another job, we will do our best to help him or her achieve their goal. • T he philosophy of our center will take its inspiration from Buddhism, which embraces the philosophy of kindness and compassion for all and the respect for the environment. The Center will have a farm and garden for teaching the children the beauty of harvesting our own food and raising our own animals. • W e will also develop exchange programs with children, teenagers and adults from other countries who would like to come to the Center to spend some time with us and help us in a variety of ways. • Y ou can also become a Friend of Pablo. We already have almost 250 friends in many different countries. • W e pledge that the maximum of the money we raise will go to our cause, and we will minimize the money spent on administrative costs like postage, secretarial work, and telephone calls. • Y ou can donate a sum to Pablo’s Friends Foundation every month. Once you have decided the amount you wish to donate, you simply ask your bank to automatically transfer that amount of money to Pablo’s Friends account
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WHAT CAN YOU DO TO BE MORE INVOLVED?
This plan will help us to know what amount of money we can depend on every month, especially after the Center opens and we begin serving the children. • W e can set up monthly or yearly plans of your choice. Of course, any and all donations will be honored and appreciated. • Y our generous donation will be tax deductible and we will send you the proper tax paperwork so you can show your contribution on your yearly taxes. Our non•profit status information will be included. • If you desire to become more involved in our project, you can have a Pablo’s Friends Get-Together. • I nvite your friends for a wonderful get together so you can introduce them to our project and invite them to join us. We will provide all the information they might need to help them understand what we are trying to achieve, and if we have a local representative of Pablo’s Friends Foundation in your area they can come and speak to your guest. • T o keep up with the progress of Pablo’s Friends Foundation, send us an Email to email@example.com You can also visit our website: www.pablosfriends.org
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OUR FUTURE GOALS:
At our April 2008 meeting, our Board agreed that we would construct the first center with the initial capacity to house ten children, five girls & five boys. 2008 to 2012 We would like to raise enough money to buy a piece of land in La Ventana, Mexico. 2013 We would like to build our Center and start receiving children at the end of the year. We believe that each one of us can do some small thing to make this planet a better place for all the generations to come. It is true that the work of one little ant is a drop in the bucket,However, hundreds of thousands of ants can achieve a lot. Suzy
We welcome help in many areas of need including ideas you may have to help make our dream a reality.
Thank you for taking the time to read our information and for your interest in our dream to change the fate of the poorest children of the world and give them hope. We would like to thank the following people for helping us with this booklet: > Noreen Nash > Sandra Stafford > Bill Garland > Rodger Hoefel www.rh-creative.com
PLEASE JOIN US!
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