The Boy in the Favela

October 30, 2017

The car jumped along the road, rocking me ever so slightly, as one would do with a baby. It might be strange, but I’ve found that I like sleeping in cars or buses better than I do in my own bed. I guess it has to do with that the constant moving and noise, and the fact that I just fall asleep faster. Yet this time I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t really tired, even after the twelve-hour plane ride to Argentina.
I leaned my head against the window, looking out into the world. The sun seemed to be lazily climbing over the horizon, bathing the world in its light. The passing buildings illuminated in the array of pinks and oranges. Sunrises and sunsets, another thing I like. It seemed the sun had the power to make almost anything beautiful. Almost. Somethings just couldn’t be beautiful. Beginning to cloud my view of the countryside were thousands of shacks and huts, like pebbles on the ground. Favelas. I was young at the time, but not naive. I knew poverty existed around the world, even close to home. It didn’t take a trip halfway across the world to realize that. At this point, I would’ve just looked away, since it pained me too much to look at something I couldn’t help. But this time I saw something different. There was a little boy peeking over a balcony, looking out at the passing cars. His shoes were old and worn. His clothes looked like they hadn’t been washed in months. But his face, was full of hope, shining brighter than any sunset I’ve seen. Suddenly, a pang of guilt hit my stomach. How was it fair that I could have all these luxuries in my life, and he had none? How was it fair that I was free to dream so carelessly about my future, knowing that it could come true, yet his dreams would just stay as they were?  It wasn’t right.
“Corina Torres,” Applause fills the room as I nervously walk across the stage. My science teacher waits expectantly, smiling. She hands me the award and pulls me into an embrace.
“You’ve earned it,”  she whispers, and I go on to shake the hands of the other teachers and administrators. I return to my seat where I’m flooded with congratulations from friends and family. Yet, it all felt so wrong. It’s been two years since I saw that boy in the favela, and however in this moment he’s all I can think about. Here I am getting told how much I will succeed, yet I wonder if he was ever told that. For all I know he’s still standing on the balcony, staring out with those eager eyes.
A couple months later, I’m sitting in my English class asked to answer these questions:
What is one dream you have for your future? What things get in the way of reaching one’s dreams? How can we combat these roadblocks?
I was so caught up in my thoughts and worries for the day, that my hand just took over, launching into the dream I’ve had since I was 9. The dream of learning to code, becoming a software developer, and working for a company like Google or Apple. And then my eyes fall on the next question, and my heart stops. What could get in the way of your dream? I see the boy again standing there. I wonder, what his dream is. Maybe he wants to be a doctor or a teacher. Maybe he just wants to live somewhere safe. It seemed as if my struggles were so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, so meaningless, compared to what that boy goes through. I so badly wanted to give him the world, but it had already been given to me. So I wrote some random, mundane answers on the paper, and left myself to ponder about the boy in the favela.






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