A view of the SOS Children's Village Assomada in Cape Verde…
This is a lovely story about some teenagers who have grown up with the support of SOS Children's Villages, and now are choosing to help children who don't have a home.
A view of the SOS Children's Village in Assomada, Cape Verde
This is a lovely story about some teenagers who have grown up with the support of SOS Children's Villages, and now are choosing to help children who don't have a home. This report from August 2006 describes the experiences of Cape Verdean teenagers who are helping street children from Mindelo:
São Vicente island is one of the ten islands of Cape Verde. In São Vicente SOS Children's Villages have a retreat that is for children who would otherwise be living on the street in Mindelo -- the main city of the island. The street children centre in Mindelo which is supported by SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde, it works to help vulnerable children out of otherwise dreadful situations, the retreat is just one of the ways they help.
Fourteen teenagers (six girls and eight boys), who have been cared for by SOS Children's Villages, help to run the retreat, under the supervision of the SOS staff. Together the teenagers and the girls and boys had a great time together -- they visited the mayor of Mindelo, they played football on the beach, they talked in a very informal way, about health, drugs, family life or life projects.
19-year-old Marco Paulo is one of the teenagers from Assomada (located on Santiago island) who spent two weeks with the street children in São Vicente. Just back from the camp, he spoke about his experiences and his impressions in an interview.
How did you end up going camping with the street children of Mindelo?
I was invited to participate in this camp and I accepted with pleasure, not only to discover the island of São Vicente, but mainly because I really liked the idea of getting together with the street children. I wanted to contribute and help them the way I could.
What were you doing in the daytime? What was a typical day like?
We of course had to contribute to cleaning our place. Divided in three groups, we swapped every day to clean the common room, the kitchen and the bathrooms. We also helped with distributing meals and doing the dishwashing. The rest of the day, when no group activities were planned, we chatted, played board games and listened to the children of Mindelo and their sad stories.
Which story marked you the most?
The one of a boy who went to live in the street because they were too many in his family and because his mother couldn't give him anything; she could not care for his essential needs. Soon after he left home, he also stopped attending school. He roamed in the streets, hoping and trying to find what was missing home.
There is also the story of a boy who ran away from his house in order to escape from his father, a heavy drinker who used to beat him and would always fight with his mother. He just could not stand this life anymore and left for the street.
Did you make a lot of friends?
Yes, of course! Especially with the younger ones. They had to go to bed a little bit earlier than us (the older ones) and I used to stay with them to tell them stories and also listen to them.
I heard you had conferences on various themes. Can you tell us more about it?
I found the idea great! Sensitising children and youths in a very relaxed and non-formal atmosphere was very useful, I think. What I liked the most is the night we played a Brazilian movie on a boy who went on the street because his mother had died in an accident. He went to look for his father, and luckily met someone who helped him find his brothers. Together, they regained strength to continue looking for their father. His courage and persistence impressed me very much!
What are the three things you will remember from this camp?
The friendships made, the conviviality and the family atmosphere.
Would you participate to a similar experience in the future?
Of course! I would love to see the boys again and see what they will become, if our advices were of any benefit, if their life changed, if the ones who said they no longer wanted to stay in the street have gone back home. And if there were new boys, we would surely do the same work with them, with the help of the former street children!
In addition to supporting 113 children living in very poor socio-economic conditions and unable to attend school, the family strengthening programme of SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde in Mindelo offers its support, with the help of partners like the city hall of Mindelo, the Nho Djunga training centre and the Cape Verdean Institute for Minors, to twelve street children from the city of Mindelo.
These children are so far accommodated in a small city hall centre, where they receive food, shelter, access to hygiene, medical assistance, counselling and access to education and training. In order to further extend and improve services offered to children and families, SOS Children's Villages plans to construct a building in which the SOS Social Centre Mindelo and the programmes run by it will be accommodated.