Portrait of a SOS-mother in a shop buying groceries
SOS Children go on an adventurous holiday:
This article, from 2006, shows how an excursion for some of our children, provided the opportunity for new friendships and exciting experiences. It includes an interview with an SOS child, who shows that friendships can defy possible barriers like background and age:
From 29 August to 12 September 2006, São Vicente island - one of the ten islands of Cape Verde - welcomed the first holiday camp for SOS youths and street children from Mindelo, the main city of the island. SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde organised this special event with the aim of sensitising young people on various aspects and letting SOS youths and street children share their experiences and advices.
Fourteen SOS youths (six girls and eight boys) and twelve young boys receiving support through the street children centre in Mindelo (supported by SOS Children's Villages Cape Verde) spent two weeks together in a youth camp in Madeiral, about ten kilometres away from Mindelo. Under the supervision of the youth leader of the SOS Youth Facility in Assomada, two former SOS youths, the two managers of the street children centre and the local community coordinator for the family strengthening programme Mindelo, the girls and boys took part in various activities organised to develop their sense of solidarity, friendship, affection and discipline.
The programme was full of events to keep the 26 young people busy. In addition to the visit of the city of Mindelo, which included a meeting with the mayor and a visit of the city hall, the holidaymakers went several times to the beach and played football matches against youths from the local community in which they were staying. Conferences were also held in a very informal way, to raise the children and youths' awareness on issues like health and hygiene, drugs, family life or life projects.
20-year-old Marco Paulo is one of the youths from the SOS Youth Facility in 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 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 there 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.
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 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 fruitful, 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 advice was 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!