Figure 3.8. The shaman and the sick Indian. By Mariano Tupã Mirim, 1999.
As if the grotesque scenery of the dumpster were not enough, the kids' favorite
distractions in their home village reveal how tenuous their hold on survival is. In
their play, the children mimic the solitude experienced at hospitals, burial rituals
of the loved ones, and the fanaticism of proselytizers. But histories of suffering are
emblematic of something other than tragic and premature death (Farmer 1996:227).
Amidst the tragedy, the infants are proposing concrete and creative solutions to
ameliorate the life of the people.
THE SINGER, THE COOK, AND THE TIN CAN GATHERER
To “play singer” is a favorite diversion for Diego, Daniela, and Angélica da Silva,
Guarani Nhandeva siblings who are 9, 7, and 3 years old, respectively. The first time
I watched the performance, in October 1998, Diego informed me he was imitating
Chitãozinho, a popular country music singer in Brazil, while Daniela cooked and
little Angélica gathered tin cans. The three children played on the muddy hillside
next to their 12 by 9-foot shack, built out of scraps of wood, plastic, old blankets and
covered with palm tree leaves and asbestos tiles. Daniela used water from a stream
that flowed a few feet away, visibly contaminated by the neighbor's pig pen. It is