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The Sights and Voices of Dispossession: The Fight for the Land and the Emerging Culture of the MST (The Movement of the Landless Rural Workers of Brazil)


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Studies, statements & references -> Terra: The Photography of Sebastião Salgado 16 resources (Archive edited by Else R P Vieira. Photographs © Sebastião Salgado)

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Sebastião Salgado


Abandoned children in the state institutions of the big cities

See also:

Poems - To our newspaper (1)
Poems - The flag of the MST
Lyrics - Candelária
Lyrics - A bumpkin in the São Paulo metro

Abandoned children in the state institutions of the big cities

One of the greatest problems caused by massive exodus of rural peoples to the large cities of Brazil is the disintegration of families. At first, families attempt to maintain the nuclear solidarity, each seeking to help others. But little by little the constant shortage of resources in the search for a means of survival breaks the group’s cohesion, and they yield to every-man-for-himself: begging, robbery, prostitution. Adolescent children leave their parents who in turn abandon their younger children or entrust them to state child-welfare institutions.

FEBEM, the Foundation for Child Welfare, in São Paulo, has a department specializing in helping the needy child at a young age. One of the agencies is here, on Angatuba Street, in the Pacaembu district, almost in the heart of the city. Some 428 children live here, of whom 35 per cent were abandoned in the streets when they were still very small; their parents are unknown. According to FEBEM, the proportion of abandoned children remained at the 10 per cent level for a long time, rising to 35 per cent in the last two years. São Paulo, 1996.

Salgado, Sebastião. Terra: Struggle of the Landless. Preface by José Saramago. Verses by Chico Buarque. Translated by Clifford Landers. London: Phaidon Press, 1998: 94-5 (photo), 141 (caption). Thanks to Sebastio Salgado for providing free use of his photographs and captions on this web site. For further information about the photographs and captions contact


November 2002

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