I saw this incredible video for Us Two Little Gods by Dido today.
Made by Sony BMG and film maker/ photographer Marcos Prado it is an extremely poignant portrayal of the life of an elderly Brazilian woman who lives on a waste site sorting rubbish. Prado has stated previously that,
I have no artistic goal with my work. My main goal is to make people aware about some issues that remain far from our daily lives, and to bring consciousness and information so that people can fight for what it is important in life.
Despite this I think this video is beautiful, and although the subject matter is heart-wrenching the combination of his sensitive editing and the warmth of the song never allows the subjects to be reduced solely to objects of our pity. I felt a sense of admiration for people who are able to carry on in such circumstances with such strength and dignity. He has also done much work highlighting the plight of Brazilians working as modern slaves in charcoal camps. To summarize - Brazil is still an industrial country with steel as one of it's key resources. In order to make steel you need charcoal, so the poorest and most vulnerable are offered work in charcoal camps in the forest, where their labour cards are taken away and they are effectively unable to leave, working in terrible conditions decimating huge areas of forest. I read part of a fascinating book online called Disposable People by Kevin Bales, it's about modern day slavery all over the world and covers the charcoal camps, from which the title of this post is taken. To check it out click here (I'm feeling Google book previews)...
The largest dump in Africa, Olusosun, just outside Lagos, Nigeria.
The story of the lady living in Brazil is sadly not that strange to me. The years ('92-'95) I spent living in Warri (in the south of Nigeria and often described as a shanty town), on a daily basis would include holding your breath trying to walk quickly along an entire road (burning sand or semi-open sewer covers for pavement) lined with smouldering rubbish piled as high as a house, trying not to stare at the adults and children living and working on them. Often they were stick thin shouting mad men, naked with matted dread locks, red eyes, sores and distended genitals.
The dangers of these dumps were highlighted again to me in an email the other day about a charity music event for the Guajero children of Guatemala...gases that develop in the heat create vacuums people are sucked in to and buried alive, children living in unimaginable conditions, with little hope for the future. (At Olusosun for example it is an ambition to be a sorter instead of a scavenger, and this goal can take years to reach). If you would like to help check out organisations like Libre Infancia...but really I think it's going to take a hell of a lot more than that.
*Sorry to go off on a sad little tangent but this song and video moved me and I just thought I'd share it with you.