"Volta Grande do Xingu"
A poem by Luciano Gouveia de Moraes Silva, age 13
- March 22, 2013
- Caroline Bennett
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I just stumbled upon this poem that 13-year-old Luciano read to me by candlelight from his family's modest home on the banks of the mighty Xingu River, deep in the Brazilian Amazon. We had spent the day exploring his rainforest backyard, stopping to sample fruits and to tell stories about our surprisingly similar childhoods growing up on rivers. He taught me how to swing out over the sandbank just the right way to make the biggest SPLASH!, and how to carry overflowing buckets without spilling a drop. He shared the magic secrets of the Xingu as if he'd been safeguarding them all his life for that very moment.
"Caro, can I read you a poem I wrote about the river?"
"Claro (of course)!" I whispered. "Can I record it so that maybe someday all the world can know the magic secrets of the Xingu?"
He pulled his notebook, weathered and yellow from rainforest dampness, closer to the light of the flame and began to read with a confidence well beyond his years.
Big Bend of the Xingu,
A place where terror is being made.
They are destroying such a beautiful river...
I gasped. This kid grew up on the banks of paradise and was well aware it was being ripped from under him as the Brazilian government plowed forward to build the world's third largest hydroelectric dam on his playground and one of the Amazon's major tributaries, the Xingu River.
To build the Belo Monte dam, more earth and rock is being excavated and dynamited than was moved to build the Panama Canal. The sheer enormity of the project means that an area of more than 1,500 square kilometers would be devastated, and 80% of the Xingu's flow diverted. The project directly impacts the water, land and livelihood of thousands of riverine, indigenous and urban families and will forcedly displace 20,000 - 40,000 people, including Luciano's family who has lived there for decades.
The truth is no one knows the real cost of the Belo Monte dam.
Luciano is well aware of his family's fate, and asked me to share with you the poem he wrote in case they "kill the magic" of the Xingu. Since then his family has been evicted from their home when dam builder's work camps crept onto their land and explosions and bright lights took over quiet rainforest nights.
Around the world people are celebrating and taking action for water. Today I'm asking you to listen to Luciano's wise and youthful words, and to support our relentless campaign to show the world that dams in the Amazon are not the answer, that they destroy our planet's precious water system and the thousands of lives that depend on it.
Our brave Field Team is in Brazil right now and we won't give up the fight for the Xingu, but your direct support makes our work possible at critical moments.
For the Xingu, for Water, for Life.