After showing a video of children talking about the Living and learning project a volunteer remarked that they didn’t look like they were from poor backgrounds. This reminded me of a volunteers who in the centre of the city of Rio observed that you never see anyone from the favelas. I remember saying to her, ‘and how would you know that they were from the favelas’? She replied, “by the way they were dressed”.
Both these experiences reminded me of the different ways we perceive things.
In Brazil the poor take great pride and effort in their appearance – the centre of Rio is full of people from the favelas but the outsider would not ‘see’ them if they were looking for people who look poor.
It is interesting that the poor don’t want to be seen as poor but the ‘rich’ require them to look poor to generate sympathy and generosity.