• Short Summary

    Bogota, the capital of Colombia, which perches on the western shoulder of the South American continent, is renowned for its delicious pastries.

  • Description

    CU: Poor children in old clothes.

    GV & LV: Families outside dwellings in shanty towns. (4 SHOTS)

    SV: Children in suburb pushing handcart.

    SV & CU: Children sorting through pile of rubbish with dogs sniffing alongside. (2 SHOTS)

    SV & LV: Child sorting through refuse collection bin. (2 SHOTS)

    SV: Child in street with adults.

    SV & CU: Gang of gamines in street. (5 SHOTS)

    CU: Gang leader.

    LV: Gamines in street. (2 SHOTS)

    SV: Two boys enter market area.

    SV: Policemen in street. (2 SHOTS)

    LV & SV: Boy pushing cart full of rubbish.

    Here-in this filth-is the means of living for thousands of people of Bogota-those who are worse off than poor-those who have nothing.

    This rubbish might contain food which the children will take back to their families.

    Or there might be bottles and paper which can be re-sold.

    But it also carries sickness and disease.

    And even worse-the seeds of social disorder.

    These children-like thousands of others-live in the sprawling shanty towns to the south of Colombian capital.

    Most of their parents left the countryside to come to the big city seeking a new life. But only a small percentage of these rural immigrants find a job-the others live any way they can.

    The children take the hard life along with their parents.

    Everywhere they can be found pushing crude box carts in which they gather their food, bottles or paper.

    Dogs and children alike compete for the means to live.

    Sent out into the streets, the youngsters try to help support their families-and they share among each other the secrets of survival.

    It could be finding out the best places to scratch around for food or unwanted junk-or ways of extracting goods or money from those who have it.

    Although there are poor children like this in many other cities of the world there is one type-the gamin-which has become part of the life of Bogota.

    The gamines-gangs of scruffy boys with grown-up eyes, exist in an Oliver Twist world of petty crime with its own special code. Often they are lead by a Fagin-type thief who watches over them and teaches them how to live in the streets.

    They are different to the ordinary poor children because of a certain air a certain manner-almost a pride which marks them like a badge.

    They are probably the best pickpockets in the world, and can snap off a wrist-watch before you know it.

    The gamines-like the other poor children of BOGOTA-are the victims of conditions and events which are beyond their control. Their worry is survival.

    They are the symbols of poverty which meet you on the street corners by day. And at night even penetrate the walls of your homes with the rumbling of dust carts looking for food.

    Initials JS/0215

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Bogota, the capital of Colombia, which perches on the western shoulder of the South American continent, is renowned for its delicious pastries. These are the part of the high-calorie diet for the well-to-do. Poverty has another, and uglier, face. Such as scrawny children scavenging among the city's garbage dumps for scraps of food to help keep their families alive.

    SYNOPSIS: The children live in shanty towns near Bogota. Most of their parents left the countryside to come to the city seeking a new life. But only a few of them find a job.

    Their children are born into crushing poverty. They learn to survive as best they can. Their supermarket has to be the garbage dump, and their fellow shoppers, the city's stray dogs.

    Hunger dulls the brain but sharpens the instinct for survival. If the trash heap can't yield enough food or junk, other ways exist to wheedle goods and money.

    Urchins are found in poor places all over the world, but Bogota has its own special type-the gamines. These are gangs of scruffy boys with knowing eyes. They get by in an Oliver Twist world of a petty crime, often guided and watched over by a Fagin-style leader.

    Their harsh world is a moral twilight zone but has its own rough-hewn code. And the gamines have the pride of the true professional: they are perhaps the most adroit pickpockets in the world. They have to be deft and nimble-like so many Spanish-speaking Artful Dodgers -- to stay in circulation.

    Bogota is a noted cultural and manufacturing centre. But this means nothing to the gamin hunched over his pushcart, trudging and city streets, day after day, on the hard edge of survival, where he his fated to remain.

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    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
    Issue Date:
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