Olivia Weston, the 22-year-old house-mother at the Mission School, says she also has a part in this story; Raphael, Rat, Gardo, and Father Juilliard asked her to “write it down carefully.” Originally, she traveled to the area in order to surf and she visited Behala to deliver some money from her affluent parents. Olivia fell “in love” with the children living on the dumpsite, so she ended up staying and working at the school. Like Father Juilliard, Olivia is very fond of Jun (meaning Rat, who calls Olivia “Sister” or “Mother”) and she often gives him extra food and money. Jun’s way with adults is probably how a boy with nobody manages to survive.
Olivia’s fondness for Jun (meaning Rat) showcases his ability to charm adults into giving him money and food, another streetwise skill he likely cultivated from a life on the streets. This once again demonstrates that Rat is an emotionally intelligent boy despite his lack of education and resources. The fact that Rat needs to go to such lengths in order to survive reinforces the extreme poverty faced by children like him.
The day after Raphael returns from the police station, Jun brings him and Gardo to visit Olivia. When Raphael arrived at Behala, bloody and beaten, the whole neighborhood came out because when one of them is hurt, “everyone feels the wound.” Olivia notices Raphael’s battered face and she wonders how somebody could do that to a child. Gardo looks forlorn as Jun explains that Gardo has no family and he will lose his home unless he gets some papers to his grandfather, who was falsely arrested because of “corruption,” in prison. Since Olivia is a foreigner, she can say she’s a social worker and they’ll let her through. The boys look desperate, and though Olivia is bewildered by this story, her heart breaks for Gardo—which is how she finds herself in a taxi to Colva Prison.
The collective pain that Behala’s residents express at Raphael’s abuse highlights the strong sense of empathy and community in this little corner of the city, which makes the difficulties of life in such poverty more bearable. Once again, the boys display their strategic and emotional intelligence when they’re able to trick Olivia into taking them to Colva Prison. She appears to be no match for their wily smarts, despite her educated and clearly affluent background.
Olivia says that her vanity allowed the boys to manipulate her. She takes Gardo alone with her, stopping on the way to get him some new clothes since even his best clothes are stiff with dirt. She’s surprised at how carefully Gardo chose them and that he wants the most expensive ones. After some negotiation, she pays for a whole new outfit on her credit card because she knows a dumpsite boy won’t be let into Colva Prison. Olivia is taken aback by how handsome Gardo looks with clean clothes and shoes on. His radiance and happiness melt her heart.
Gardo’s transformation shows how easily children could be saved from the poverty they are condemned to, hinting that their plight is at least in part a function of society’s failure to step in and help. The fact that Gardo needs clean clothes to gain access to public spaces like Colva Prison also implies that society’s poorest children are typically shunned or avoided.