The year is 1996. You are a 13 year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and armed groups want to recruit you for the war. They come to your house, but your father, who loves you dearly, tells you to escape, to run away. You do that. You walk through five different countries, and you endure exhaustion, hunger, thirst, pain and cruelty to get to South Africa, a safer place. When you get to the border, you have to cross a crocodile infested river, a national park surrounded by electrical fences and the customs, that tell you that they can´t let you in because, sorry, you don´t have a passport. When, after some time, you are eventually admitted into the country, you are a black boy living on the streets of Cape Town, only two years after the end of the apartheid, which means that it is pretty much still there. You get kicked, beaten up, hostilized, but still you manage to go to school every day, after spending the nights on the streets.
For most of us, the end of this story would be just closing a book, or turning off the TV. Not for journalist Pappy Orion. He is that kid.
Pappy came to Brazil to tell us his story, and the story of his beloved Congo. After living in South Africa for thirteen years, Pappy went back to Congo and shot a documentary about the horrors perpretated by the armed groups to the Congolese people. Massive rapes and killing, recruiting of children to war, and the weakening and destruction of a once vibrant people. One of Pappy´s sisters was raped when she was five and became HIV positive. She died of Aids last year. The images and testimonies are devastating.
I met Pappy and interpreted for him in two occasions. I also met Coach João do Carmo, a Physical Education teacher who does volunteer work with kids from extremely empoverished communities here in Passo Fundo, and Pappy´s host in town. Pappy and Carmo met through the Internet, and he came to learn from Carmo´s humanitarian project of getting kids out of the streets and into sports. He wants to do the same in Congo, and Carmo will travel there to help him out.
When people ask them, how can we help? They simply say: donate sports material for the kids there(it´s easier for most Congolese children to get a gun than to get a soccer ball). It´s as simple as that, and it helps volumes- people here have donated more than 300 hundred soccer balls already. The point is, do something. Do not just stay there, watching things happen, or worse, being completely unaware of what happens in the world.Most of the times, the simplest things can help. If you can´t afford donating money or objects, donate your skills. Your expertise in some area, your writing skills, your translation skills, even passing the message on and letting more people know about what goes on can help.
We have many examples here at Redroom of people somehow donating themselves to make the world a better place: Ellen denouncing the (dis)honor killings, Dr. Jitu with his patients in India, Susan and KidThree, Mary with Missy, Kunzang with Maddie and the other dogs at the shelter, Raul and the respectable place of immigrants in society, and many other people - the list is very long to mention everybody (which says a lot about this community). Thank you all and please, keep on.
We each are a piece of humanity. The bells are tolling every minute. Incessantly.
From left to right, Luciana, Pappy, and Taís from UPF TV, who´s been also collecting the donations. Photo taken by Coach Carmo. I feel lucky to have met such wonderful human beings.