I've been following the story of Vidal and Brandon's quest to bring much needed change and inspiration to an area that has been deprived of New York's supposed glitz and glamour. It's heartwarming and beautiful and it restores one's faith in the future.
But when I see photos taken around Vidal's home, I also feel deprived. In the parallel realities that play out in my mind, if Vidal were a teen from our country, he would likely be living in slum-like areas in Metro Manila, possibly studying in an NGO-funded school, accepting handouts for uniforms, and working after class to help his mother sustain their family. Given that he's a bright kid, he could be smart enough to be working anywhere but the streets.
The building he's living in, though he may describe it as filthy, is already a dream for so many of our low and middle wage earners. Like most of our community, they are also living hand to mouth, but they have a roof over their heads that won't be blown away by the first strong gust of wind to pass through. They have passable clothing and presumably enough food to sustain them daily.
I'm not saying that his life is not tough. Contrarily, I wish that while many of our countrymen are still battling with poverty, we could at least provide more of them with their most basic necessities and give them hope that they could someday rise above their struggle.
Photo credits to Humans of New York. This photo of a teen named Vidal is part of a series that managed to raise $700,000 in four days to provide much needed opportunities for the students of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a school established in 2011 at Brownsville, which has the highest crime rate in Brooklyn. The original caption is:
"The buildings are filthy in the housing projects. Some people poop and pee in the hallways. And some of the people around here aren't friendly. I don't think it's a sadness or anger that they feel, but a sort of emptiness. You look around and see a lot of negative things, and you can't help but feel like you're a part of something negative, and that maybe you're something negative. Part of me wants to leave. But part of me wants to stay, because I have a lot of family nearby, and I don't want to live far away from them."