Photo courtesy Boca de Rua.
As a small organization with just one-and-a-half staff members, Megaphone does its best to provide an opportunity for Vancouver’s marginalized. The poverty, addiction and mental illness in our city can make our work daunting, but I am heartened and inspired every day by the joy and determination of Megaphone’s vendors and writers, and the support we receive from our readers.
Whatever the challenges we face, we’re very fortunate to live in a wealthy city with so many people concerned about poverty in their communities. However, many street papers around the world— there are more than 150—struggle with a level of poverty that is much more abject.
And for them, even printing the paper is a tremendous challenge.
One such paper is Boca de Rua (Mouth of the Street), the street paper in Porto Alegre, a city of about one million in southern Brazil. While the country has made great strides over the past decade, about one per cent, or 1.8 million, of the country’s inhabitants live on the streets.
Sold and written entirely by homeless people, Boca de Rua has been in existence for 13 years, with a quarterly distribution of 10,000. The writers attend weekly meetings where, under the coordination of two journalists, work on the editorial direction, photo production and pre-editing.
Much like Megaphone, the paper’s mission is to “generate an alternative income and social inclusion ... and uses communication as a fundamental tool to develop self-esteem, critical thinking, the search for rights, social inclusion.” However, they do this under a much more extreme environment.
When we received word this past summer that Boca de Rua’s parent organization was facing a financial shortfall and the paper would not be able to print its next edition, Megaphone stepped in with a $250 donation. Alone, the donation wasn’t enough to fund printing, but a number of other street papers also sent donations. Thanks to the help from the international street paper movement, Boca de Rua is able to continue to provide an economic opportunity and a voice for their city’s homeless.
The staff at Boca de Rua sent Megaphone a thank-you note for our support that I would like to share with everyone who supports Megaphone. I think it embodies what all street papers try to achieve around the world, whether it’s in Vancouver or Brazil, and why we need to always work to support each other:
“In our country, there is a poet, Mário Quintan, who once said, ‘We are all angels with one wing, we need to embrace each other so that we can fly!’”
Megaphone has since learned that Boca de Rua secured the needed funding for 2014.