A holiday story that emerged from an unexpected place took a heartwarming turn when Gabriel Silva. A Brazilian boy photographed pulling a Christmas photo tree from a garbage dump, helped buy his family a house.
Before Christmas last year 2021, AFP photojournalist Joe Paulo Guimaraes took a picture of Silva, a 12-year-old, pulling a small plastic tree from a huge dumpsite. swarmed by impoverished trash-pickers in the town of Pinheiro, in northeast Brazil. The photograph went viral, Silva and his family started receiving large donations from many people who felt touched seeing their struggle, a symbol of poverty in which millions of Brazilians lives.
A real Christmas tree was sent, then a bicycle following the money-which was enough for Silva, his mother and three siblings to leave their dirty floor buy a brick house. The house, which the family purchased many weeks ago is still in the process, it has 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and a garage. Many people contributed to the online collection to assist Silva's family in raising around 80 000 reais ($16,000) in January.
"I'm so happy to have this house. We didn't use to have one, he lived in a little mud hut with nothing. Now I have a good house." said Silva. Now, 13, he helps his mother collect recyclable materials at the dump most days after school.
"I never imagined all this would happen because of the picture."
"It has electricity, running water and a bathroom with a shower," said Silva's mother, Maria Francisca, 45.
"We used to have to walk a long way to get water."
"All that's left to do is little the floors and buy some furniture," she said.