A heartbreaking picture of a poverty-stricken girl on her hands and knees drinking from a PUDDLE is shocking people across the globe.
The girl – who looks around three or four years old – from the indigenous Mbya Guarani community in Argentina, was seen quenching her thirst during a heatwave as temperature soared to 37C.
The youngster and pals are said to beg for money during the day in the city of Posadas in the north-east of the South American country.
Voluntary worker Migue Ríos started a national debate which has now crossed the borders of his native Argentina after posting the picture – taken by a local journalist – on his Facebook page.
Migue, who works at UNICEF Argentina and is based in Posadas, said in a message alongside the distressing photo: “While the country is on fire, this little Guarani girl hydrates herself from the ground.
“We must be doing something wrong as a society, mustn’t we?
Revealing the youngster was seen afterwards by doctors, he added: “Why did I post the photo?
“So that we finally start talking as a society about a problem which we often don’t do anything about because no-one highlights it, while those who should do something just carry on lining their pockets.”
Today local news website Misiones Online explained the story behind the photo, revealing it had been taken by one of its reporters during a heatwave in the centre of Posadas, around 1pm on Wednesday.
It said: “A Misiones Online journalist was driving along Mitre Avenue when he stopped at a traffic light and saw the crude scene, which regrettably often happens in the centre of Posadas.
“Youngsters from the Mbya Guarani community who are exploited from adults in their community begging for money in the city.
“And although they’re always being helped, they resist when it comes to abandoning the area because their earnings are greater than what they could make in their villages.
“The journalist, who lives in the area, is used to seeing these sorts of scenes but he got out his camera and sent the photo to colleagues to see if more could be done to help them.
“Another colleague shared the images with a group of friends who managed to get together things for them including bottled water.
“These children were helped in that way, as well as many families living on the streets in the city.
“Municipal and provincial governors help them on repeated occasions, even taking them back to the villages they come from, but they usually end up returning a short while later to beg for money again.”
The photo has prompted a wave of anger and soul-searching among the thousands of people who have shared it online.
Ana Mari Gimenez Pons wrote: “I would be ashamed if I were a millionaire boasting about my luxury lifestyle while others die of hunger.”
Tamara Lamirona added: “Put yourself in the place of that little girl and what she must fell or imagine your children in that situation!!”
The Guarani are a group of culturally related indigenous peoples of South America.
They use the Guarani language and are present in what is today Paraguay as well as the Missions province of Argentina which Posadas is in as well as southern Brazil.
The total population of Myba Guarani in Misiones is though to number around 3,000 people.
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At least half a dozen countries in the region saw their president fall or conflicts break out in the wake of the former Tunisian leader’s downfall, in what became known as the Arab Spring.
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