5 April 2013

Busking and begging in Buenos Aires



This boy was busking on the Subte in Buenos Aires (the subterranean metro). I had already seen him in the morning but I saw him again, still going, in the evening on my way home. SIX hours later! This boy is amazing. In the beginning (0:11) you can hear him thumping the balls on the roof.

He juggles three balls, then picks up another, then another. He drops one a few times when he's juggling five balls, but I put that down to the tiredness of busking for six hours. And bear in mind, the Subte is not a smooth ride. When I saw him in the morning, he was flawless. 

There are many children, like him, busking for survival. Four million people live in poverty in metropolitan Buenos Aires (31.2% of the population) and 1.2 million are described as indigent (9.7%), which means they don’t have minimum resources to purchase the basic food basket.[1] All too often in Latin America, I would see children busking, begging or working, doing their part in their family's survival.

In Ecuador, I saw a 7-year old boy standing out the front of a nightclub at 2am, holding a wooden tray, selling cigarettes, gum and candy. His parents were there too, selling. At one point the boy slouched a bit, missing a few potential clients. His father made a menacing lunge at him, which made him quickly resume his post.

The worst incidence I saw was a little child, maybe around 5-years old, minding an infant (I assume his sibling) on a busy pavement in Buenos Aires. They had obviously been placed there by adults, to plead for donations. This one instance was enough to outrage people, who had gathered around them, discussing what to do. I believe they were calling the authorities.

Hmm... I had only intended to write about the juggling boy.


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