Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friends, Smiles, Hope

We dine at the Friends Restaurant, an organization where those who have been forgotten and abandoned on the street are remembered again. Friends reaches 1,000 street children a day, and has made extraordinary gains in the ten years since its founding. We watch the children giggling as they are given schooling, watch the adolescents who are learning practical life skills such as cooking and mechanics, alongside health classes and talks on gender. They smile at our cameras so genuinely.
As do the poorest of the poor when we visit them in their slums, greeting us with smiles and hope. We enter the slum along a rickety platform that runs between two buildings, and are instantly met by the heaps of garbage and the putrid stench rising from between the ramshackle wooden huts. But there are smiles on the faces. They cluster around peer educators – also funded by UNFPA – here as well, and laugh at the games and the lessons. These people have not forgotten to love life, and we should not forget that they have the right to long life, and good health.

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