* * * Here's Edith Parzefall! * * *
While Strays of Rio (MuseItUp) isn't a teen book, one of the main characters is fourteen-year-old Luiz, a street kid in Rio de Janeiro. He and his gang are the true heroes of this novel, surviving and enjoying life against all odds.
As part of my research, I visited Grupo Ruas e Pracas, a street kids project in Receife, Brazil. Their German partner organization RUA e.V., which I've been supporting for several years now, got me in contact with the social workers there.
We couldn't have timed our visit better. While we were there, Grupo Ruas e Pracas attended a community event in a nearby park and ran a drumming workshop for street kids in the walled-in backyard of their premises. Ear-deafening but intoxicating rhythms.
When a ten-year-old wants to bum a cigarette, it's certainly a powerful reminder of their background. Or a social worker telling me not to let one of their young charges take photos with my camera. I wanted to slap my forehead for doing that. Did I think him a potential thief? Yes, very likely stealing once was a way for him to get food.
When I watched the boy excitedly snapping pictures and scrutinizing the results on the little display, I couldn't wrench the camera from him. When more of the kids wanted to take photos, the social worker intervened and rescued my camera. Comparing the photos later, I realized that while I'd been hunting for faces, my young fellow photographer aimed for objects that intrigued him, for example the drums lined up without kids and teachers getting in the way.
Watch for Edith's novel, Strays of Rio, to be released from MuseItUp Publishing this September.