I’ve made a fun group of friends that I see every Saturday: the market wheelbarrow boys. I don’t fool myself–offering free cake samples is an excellent way to make friends.
These little guys get paid to haul the vendor’s goods in and the customers’ groceries home. You often see them pushing piles of groceries or sacks of grain larger than they are. Child labor is illegal in Brazil, so their work is completely under the table. They can average R$20,00/Saturday, which isn’t too shabby a wage for a nine year-old (comparison: an adult day laborer makes R$25). At first I thought they were all low-income, but that’s not true. Most are, but some come from solidly middle-class families with obviously very strong work ethics.