When Invisible Children Sing - by Dr. Chi Huang
"Bolivian street children who survive by thievery and prostitution"
When Invisible Children Sing is an inspiring book that highlights the stories of several street children in Bolivia. Dr. Chi Huang depicts how horribly street children are treated and gives a small glimmer of hope for change. This book is a great, easy read, but also an unhappy read. Huang tells this story in journal form and weaves the story of his own childhood with the stories of the children he meets in Bolivia, contrasting his life of comparative privilege with those he develops a relationship with on the streets of La Paz. Huang’s goal for this book is to raise awareness of the awful treatment of street children in South America. I highly recommend it because it explains in great detail a little of what I’ve experienced on my three trips to Peru to work with the street boys there.
Dr. Huang is a medical student who takes a year off to work with street children. In Bolivia and much of South America, street children are considered less than human, a problem to be cleaned out, exterminated. Dr. Chi moves into this environment with a hope to make a difference. The few months Huang spends in Bolivia changes his life; he now spends half of his time in Boston and the other half in Bolivia trying to ease the suffering of the street children there.
Each child’s story is told in a matter of fact way. Chi uses the stories of Mercedes, Gabriel, Daniela, Vicki, and Rosa to represent the thousands of lives of street children in South America. Typically, the girls who are abandoned to the street are forced into prostitution, which leads to disease, abortion or attempts by twelve-year-olds to care for their own babies. Boys survive the streets by stealing, shining shoes, and resorting to prostitution as well.
Boys and girls alike face hunger, violence, and a harsh climate daily. The few pleasures they have come from the nightly soccer games and the yarn soaked in lighter fluid that is wrapped around each of their hands. Chi does not allow the reader to judge these children for their prostitution or their drug use, but focuses instead on their ability to survive and the care they have for each other. This book does not offer quick or easy solutions. Chi is a devout Christian, but his story would not preach well in most churches.
When Invisible Children Sing is story of one man’s journey of faith that will change your perspective on life. This is a story that will hurt your heart, expand your heart, and touch your heart. This book is inspiring to read and makes you think about your own life and all the things you take for granted. I would recommend this book to everyone.