Saturday, May 28, 2011

Risking it all: The children river traders of Brazil (Must-watch film, just 25 min)

There is a unique commerce system at work along the narrowest stretch of the Tajaparu River in Amazonia, northern Brazil.

This is where the boats pass close to the shore, and the best place for the little canoes to do business.

Children are seen working the river traffic, weaving in and out among the boats, a ferry's propeller churning fast just below them.

Jesse, 14 and Lisette, 11, are among those who risk death just to make a few pennies selling sweets and jams.

"Be careful. Get on in front. Put this way. Put the rope this side. The swirl's too strong. The canoe will tip over. I'm not going to let it go under," shouts one of the children in a boat alongside a speeding ferry.

The best-selling item is the ingas, a jungle fruit that is only found around this stretch of the river and which is much in demand with the passengers on the ferries.

But it is a dangerous harvest. It is found only at the top of some trees, often more than 30 metres above ground. Four ingas sell for one real, barely $0.25.

About a dozen canoes have attached themselves to the Bom Jesus. The ship's captain Santos maintains speed, but he has a schedule to keep to.

And he is worried about how young some of the children who board his ferry are. (read more)