Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
The children performed under the impact of the recent death of their cousin Adilson
da Silva, who was only 14 months old. He died of malnutrition and dehydration at
the city hospital, 3 days after he was hospitalized. Like most of the 48 Guarani Mbyá
children up to 12 years of age on the Itaóca reservation, when I last saw Adilson, a
few days before his death, the boy presented signs of severe malnutrition. He was
underweight (less than 6 kilos instead of 11 or 12), had a protruding abdomen, dry,
flaky skin, and the soft spot on his hairless head was sunken in - a dangerous sign
of dehydration. We rushed him to the nearest Pronto Socorro (emergency unit) that
same day, but all the physician on call ever did was give his mother a hydrating
powdered solution (basically salt and sugar) to prepare at home, despite the fact that
the water on the reservation is polluted.
Much like Edson, Angelina, and Joacir, Adilson was recovering from a myriad
of diseases that plague the reservation during the rainy season: intermittent fever,
vomiting, diarrhea, plus a variety of skin and intestinal parasites. These ailments are
caused by hunger, proximity to the garbage dump, and lack of medical assistance.
The incidence of these diseases is so high that the Guarani themselves do not identify
the occurrences as “health problems.” They are just “part of life.” When asked about
someone's health or a certain child's sickness, the elders will invariably say tudo
bem (all is well), unless the symptoms are so severe as to include high temperature
followed by prostration, strong pain, breathing difficulties, or seizures. 17
Among the Guarani of the Itaóca and neighboring villages, most children are
stunted - they are 50 percent below the average weight and 30 percent below the
optimum height for their age. Some, like Samuel Benites, a 5-year-old boy who
weighed only 18 pounds rather than the expected 40, also show signs of mental
retardation: slow, unintelligible speech, and lack of motor coordination. Samuel´s
mother, Arlinda Gomes, who has 9 kids and is a widow - her husband was run over
on the interstate in 1998 - hopes that, like many other children, her son can migrate
to the Land-without-Evil very shortly: “I know he is sickly, and can't play with the
other boys. But he will be fine in the Ywy Marae'y.”
The Guarani children's performance delineates a tragic reality. Angelina embraced
her “son” Joacir, who awaited transportation on the banana leaf, because she was
afraid of the separation. She might not have seen him again. The girl knows parents
are not allowed to accompany their kids in the ambulance. She is also aware, out of
personal experience, of the invariable “treatment” that awaits them at local hospitals:
a painful (600-milligram) shot of “Benzetacil,” a powerful antibiotic 18 that I myself
saw being injected into all of the 17 kids I drove to the Agenor de Campos Hospital
in 1999. According to a local physician, Dr. Rogério Tabet, “Benzetacil is the best
medication because the Indians' main problem is lack of hygiene.” Never did I see
Dr. Tabet perform the trial test that should precede the administration of the drug
to prevent side effects, such as the collapse of circulatory function that can lead to
respiratory and cardiac arrest, and death. Dr. Tabet did admit in 1999, however, that
he did not visit the Itaóca Village because he was “afraid of being infected by the
Search WWH ::

Custom Search