I had an amazing moment this evening. I took advantage of Jim's visit and Mr. Rant's Botafogo game at 730pm and asked if Mr. Rant could pick the kids of at school.
As luck would have it, Jim left before school pick up and as I was preparing to meet with Mr. Rant at the school a commotion started on the street. It was a protest, and a big one at that.
Going with the luck that I had actually gotten Mr. Rant to leave work early and pick up the kids, I decided to grab my camera and go with the commotion.
The protest was by the firefighters. I had the opportunity to talk with one of the organizers, a young man under 30 years old. He has 3 children, commutes 3 hours into work in Zona Sul, and was supposed to be pleased to receive the "raise" the government gave them. It was a cost of living raise, one they should be getting regardless. The crew, much larger than I have seen thus far, had congregated to ask for just money.
I followed as the obnoxious American. Greatly, that was openly accepted in a moment like this. I asked all of them what they striving for. Shockingly, the vast majority didn't talk about salary. They want better work conditions. They want enough people so that they can respond to traumas in a timely manner. They do not want their work questioned, as if they are lazy, because they don't have the man power nor the equipment to do their job correctly.
The whole of them want to be respected as the heroes they are. They want Brazilians to be able to call their version of 911 and know that one of these men will be able to be there when they are needed. They want work conditions that do not make them so exhausted that their job is about that, work, and not saving the people.
A large part of having the energy to do this kind of job is being able to support one's family. These men are spending their days taking care of our neighborhood while worrying about what is happening in the one they live in. They struggle to make it into work and have worry if they will have the money to put decent food on the table.
And here you have a group of noble people asking for conditions that allow them to do their job better. What people forget is that their job is protecting and saving our lives. Surprisingly they continue to go unnoticed to most. I will say that they have been noticed by me and I will never forget the faces of that group!