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Fundraising flood for hungry Brazilian boy who called the police

#Fundraising #flood #hungry #Brazilian #boy #called #police

A week ago the cupboards of the Barros family’s modest concrete shack were empty.

Today, the family struggles to know where to stash the mountains of food in their kitchen after 11-year-old Miguel Barros, one of eight siblings, felt heart palpitations across Brazil when he called the police to say, “We have nothing to eat. “

Miguel, whose mother had fed her children cornmeal and water for three days – the only food the family had – sadly called the Brazilian emergency services on Tuesday.

When the dispatcher asked what his emergency was, the slight, wiry boy replied, “Mr. Policeman…it’s because I don’t have any food at home.”

The dispatcher said he would send a police car to the family’s Santa Luzia home in the impoverished suburbs of the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte.

When officers arrived at the small house with the run-down mud yard, they thought they might find a case of child neglect.

Instead, they found a story that has become all too commonplace in Latin America’s largest economy: a loving but impoverished mother struggling to support her family as food prices soar and incomes dwindle.

Officers went to the supermarket and returned with a brimming load of groceries – including many donations from the store owner, whom they told of the family’s plight.

Then the local press picked up the story and Miguel went viral.

Food and monetary donations poured in from across Brazil and beyond, transforming the family’s once-bare kitchen into a crowded convenience store.

“A huge amount of food has arrived – so many different foods I don’t even know what it is,” beams Miguel, tossing up a delightfully stocked cupboard.

– “Hunger Hurts” –

Miguel’s mother Celia is a 46-year-old single mother of eight children, six of whom still live with her.

She was unemployed and working odd jobs until the coronavirus pandemic struck, when work disappeared, she says.

“We have suffered a lot. I will never forget it as long as I live because hunger hurts so much,” she told AFP, her youngest baby on her hip.

“You get to the point where you can’t even get up or do anything… Miguel saw me distraught and crying and decided to do what he was doing. And thank God everything changed.”

The little boy’s story touched people in a country where hunger has become a major problem again after being nearly eradicated a decade ago.

Brazil appeared on the latest edition of the United Nations’ “Hunger Map” where 28.9 percent of the population lived in “moderately or severely food insecure” – a setback for a country that was taken off the map in 2014.

Images of empty fridges and starving people rushing to rummage through loads of discarded animal carcasses have told a haunting story of the reversal of the once booming country.

A recent study found that 30 percent of Brazilians live in poverty — on less than $5.50 a day — up from 24 percent in 2014.

As Brazil heads for divisive elections in October, the frontrunners, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and left-wing ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, have exchanged accusations about who is to blame for the country’s malaise.

Miguel is just happy that his family has enough to eat – and a lot more.

“Now there are so many donations that I’ve gone from nothing to enough to help other people,” says Celia proudly.

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#Fundraising #flood #hungry #Brazilian #boy #called #police

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