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We need to take them out of the rain!

Visiting the streets of Recife with the Marco Zero project was an unforgettable experience. It felt deeply disturbing seeing waif like children as young as 5 and 6 roaming around on the streets, shoeless, with no adult care present. “Why are they here? How can this be happening? “I said to myself.

Marco Zero have a van which I refer to as the “Games Van”. Before it leaves for Recife’s city centre (where most of the street connected- children reside) the team make sure it’s packed up with toys, games, snacks, water and everything needed to connect with those who are so utterly disconnected from themselves and from life as you or I know it.

On arrival in one of downtown Recife’s city squares we get out of the van. Two children come running up to us. I hear a little voice saying “Have you remembered the skipping rope and the jigsaw?” I shall never forget that question.

As I hear these words I perceive how much these little ones long for the same things all children want; Laughter, fun and the opportunity to play. They are no different and they were not disappointed.

Marco Zero team member Larissa springs in to life to skip with them, jump with them, laugh with them and generally hang out with them. Her passion, her energy, her love for those urchin children was something to be experienced.

I want to help those who help get the children out of the rain. Take me to the right page!

Over on the other side of the square I saw Marco Zero team leader Fernando sitting on a bench. He was talking to a bunch of teenagers. All of them were clutching plastic bottles with glue inside and regularly inhaling it. What is the pain they are trying to numb? What has driven these children to a life on the streets with all its perils and dangers?

There he was gently coaxing them to share their stories of where they had come from, why they were there, patiently listening, supporting, sharing his time, providing a safe space.

As I observed I could see the children were relishing the attention given to them, quite happy to converse. Why? Because they know the team. They know they care about them and come after them in their solitude and abandonment. Day after day, week after week, year after year the Marco Zero team are present for children and young people at the bottom of the social pile, the most vulnerable and destitute of all.

This project is a channel of hope, light in the darkness. The Marco Zero team bring all of themselves to the very challenging and difficult situations they find these children and young people in, never giving up on them, always seeking to support them and help get them back into their families.

I came away so challenged by all that I saw. I wondered how they find the resilience, how they continue to persevere, and who looks after them after they have picked up the broken pieces of these children’s and young people’s lives.

I want to help those who help get the children out of the rain. Take me to the right page!

  • For more information on Marco Zero, click here

  • Written by: Caroline Taylor, Head of Operations at Happy Child

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