christChrist the Redeemer looks out upon a majestic world, his robed arms outstretched giving forgiveness to all sinners below. Imagine the myriad of stories being written every day in hotels, beaches and slums of Rio. Think about the 20,000+ homeless children who live under bushes because it’s safer than living in the favelas. Children as young as eight years old, abandoned by their parents, are hustling cigarettes to locals and vacationers along the famous Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon beaches.

Rio is a hotspot for money these days, as investments are pouring in from the world to build Rio for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Life is good for those with a life. The question is what happens to the homeless? Under recent law, Rio’s Special Service on Social Approach can institutionalize street kids for their own protection. Children are taken to the police station under the guise of criminal activity. This scenario is similar to the police round-ups of street children that took place prior to the World Cup 2010 hosted in Durban, South Africa. With the pressure of a global spotlight beaming on Rio, the easiest solution is to hide the problem by incarcerating or shipping away the homeless.

Stay tuned, because there are too many slums and homeless to sweep this problem under a rug and hide it from the world’s eye. When Hong Kong torn down its old city to construct a sorely needed new airport, over one million rats fled the area, flooding into the more modern parts of town. Don’t expect anything different in the next few years in Rio. Christ the Redeemer will have his hands full.

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