Before going to Brazil on an fellowship with the Institute of Current World Affairs, I had read much about "abandoned" youth in the streets of Brazilian cities. There is much poverty and hardship, and many kids working in the streets. However, many still had a relationship with their families, and their work supported that household- even if it meant putting them in dangerous situations or preventing them from going to school.
An even more desperate groups of kids roamed in groups, and made the street their home. They were very young (I knew some 10 year-olds) who sniffed industrial glue in order to “matar fome,” or kill feeling of hunger. As I learned, most 'glue kids' had escaped their homes not just because of extreme poverty, but because of abuse- usually physical and/or sexual.
This essay is the result of spending 9 months, intermittently, following a group of glue addicted street kids who lived on the streets of the Coelhos neighborhood in the Northeastern Brazilian city of Recife. In the pictures, the plastic water bottles that the youth carry contain this glue, a powerful inhalant. My intent was to understand their world, the dangers, struggles and the ways that they were able to survive this harsh life at such a young age.