"Why Can't We Be Born Twice?"
Josanna sat on the pavement in Recife, Brazil and nursed the bruises from a fresh beating by a passing policeman who had objected to her speaking out of turn. An 11-year-old runaway from a broken home, raped when she was younger, was drawing in the dirt: a picture of a house was taking shape in the dust. No ordinary home, this one was all crooked, distorted, out of shape. "Why is it broken?" a social worker asked. "Because that's how I am," came the reply.
A moment's silence passed as the worker and the girl sat together and contemplated the sketch in front of them.
Then a question to the woman: "Why can't we be born twice?" The worker was surprised, confused, she recalled later. "What do you mean?" she asked. "I don't like this life. I would like to have another one...." Josanna told how she had even tried to kill herself to start over again, only failed in the attempt. The people at the hospital had patched her up and told her not to be silly, that you couldn't be born again1.
Children Hunted And Killed
It's hard to believe there are children who suffer like this. It boggles the mind there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of street children hunted down and murdered by police officers and private vigilante groups. According to most conservative estimates, four children are killed every day in Brazil in so-called "social cleansings". During the first 90 days of Fernando Henrique Cardoso's administration, more than 270 kids were murdered in Rio de Janeiro alone. These terrible crimes against minors which include torture, beatings and killings happen in many South American countries according to Human Rights organizations. Honduras, Colombia and Venezuela among other countries have terrible human rights records, and the reports of child murders still pour in.
The Drug Problem Among Street Children
Drug abuse is a terrible problem among young street children. Children resort to any chemicals which are readily available and affordable, in particular a toxic shoe glue called Resistol by the U.S. multinational H.B. Fuller Company. H.B. Fuller is the only significant supplier of solvent-based shoe glues in Central America. The narcotic solvents in these glues are addictive and toxic to children, and cause brain damage, unconsciousness and often times death by choking on their own vomit. Public pressure has led Latin America’s second-largest producer of solvent-based glue, Dusseldorf Germany's Henkel Chemical Corporation, to start using a water-based product. Fuller however has refused to make such a switch for its industrial glues, and children continue to use this extremely cheap and harmful product.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that one of the most omnipresent health problems facing street children around the globe is the issue of drug abuse. Practically all street children everywhere are dependent on paint thinners, gasoline, glues or stronger drugs like cocaine, opium or heroin.
Don't Turn Your Backs On Them!
The world has ignored these unloved and uncared-for children long enough. These innocent little souls were deprived of a family, proper nourishment or a home. They weren't even allowed to be children! To ignore the problem any longer is to be inhuman, and it deprives us of an opportunity to show our Redeemer Jesus Christ our love and gratitude to Him. How could God allow something like this to happen? Because we let it happen! God acts through people like you and I, and when we turn our backs on helpless suffering children, we are turning our backs on God Himself. Stand and fight against child killings and sufferings. You have been called to arms!
1(Street Children, Andy Butcher, Nelson Word Ltd., 1996)