It’s great to see alumni of The Cartwheel Initiative doing great things in communities around the world.  Here’s what Sean Murray has been up to in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.  Keep up the good work Sean!


A Day In the Dump: By Sean Murray

When you go to Jardim Gramacho, or “The Garden” don’t plan on doing much else that day.

At one of the world’s largest landfills—think the landmass of 244 football fields just miles from the picturesque beaches of Rio de Janeiro—the stench clings to your skin, ruins your clothes and turns your stomach.

The carcasses of decaying pigs scatter the landscape along with every conceivable refuse human’s can create—from food scraps to household wares mixed with the jagged edges of bloodied medical waste.

It is here that children live and play.

In September I spent a day with the 300 children that call this “garden” home.

I was brought by Marcus and Mariana Liotta, just a regular couple with normal jobs who’ve made these kids their love-soaked mission. Each week they spend hours at this dump handing out supplies, praying for whoever asks and doing what would repulse many—physically embracing these tattered children.

Because of this, the kids flocked to us when we walked through the dump.

These kids were just like any other kids I’ve ever known—bright-eyed, attention-starved and lovable. At any moment I would have ten in tow as they grabbed hands, clung to legs or what seemed to be the trophy spot—perched on my shoulders.

The boys were proud, but tough. The girls were darlings with curly brown hair and blond tips bleached by the sun.

A thick green algae covered the community’s water source, yet the children played in it like a swimming hole.

Their toys, which could be a syringe or discharged IV bag some how still brought them joy. One kid innocently giggled and laughed as he tried to poke another with a diabetic lancet.

While we were treading carefully with boots, these kids fearlessly—or naively—scaled their trash mountains with bare feet.

I left the dump and was rendered speechless—the conflicting world of this hopeless place colliding with childhood innocence.

In June we are bringing 300 shoes to the children of Jardim Gramacho. To find out more about this project and to donate please visit our project page.