ANGOLA: Salesian missionaries are caring for more than 300 street children in Salesian reception houses
(MissionNewswire) Salesian reception houses for street children, including Casa Magone, Mamma Margherita, Anuarite and Kalakala, all located in Luanda, Angola, are currently hosting nearly 300 minors. Youth can find a place to sleep, water to wash with, clean clothes, food and the possibility of going to school. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Salesian missionaries have prepared themselves to protect the children of these centers.
“The government has asked us to host another hundred street children in a new center. We are doing that and have also brought the girls to the Salesian Daughters of Mary Help of Christians for help and support,” explained Salesian missionary Máximo Herrera.
Salesians are also receiving support from their community. Omar Mohamed, a local Muslim baker, is donating bread to Salesian programs to feed the street children to ensure they have enough to eat during this time.
Salesian missionaries began their work with street children in Angola during the 1990s when groups of children fleeing the war flowed into the capital. Today, long after the war has ended, children are still fleeing their homes for a variety of reasons. Many run away from home because of parent neglect, some as a result of abuse and others because they are thought to be sorcerers or witches who bring misfortune to their families.
Once on the street, these children wander from neighborhood to neighborhood, sleep wherever possible and survive thanks to small jobs like shining shoes, washing windows and carrying bags. Many girls end up prostituting themselves. Virtually everyone inhales gasoline and glue to calm the pangs of hunger and find relief from a sense of emptiness. Salesians created shelters and programs where street children are safe and can receive the care they need, including rehabilitation and reunification with their families when possible.
Salesian missionaries in Angola have also been rebuilding infrastructure that was damaged during the civil war that lasted from 1975 to 2002. Much was destroyed during the conflict including schools, medical buildings and churches. Living within the communities in which they work, Salesian missionaries have been perfectly positioned to respond to local needs and lead projects for community betterment.
During the civil war, educational disparities were widespread but recent reforms have paved the way for more youth to have better access to education and social equality. According to UNICEF, more than 36 percent of the population lives in poverty. In addition, more than one in 10 children under the age of 14 has lost one or both parents and 43,000 are separated from their families. As a result, nearly a third of these children are working and child trafficking has become an emerging problem in the country.
With a 67 percent illiteracy rate, the educational opportunities provided by Salesian programs can be truly life-changing. Through these programs, both youth and adults have access to schools and educational programs. Classes range from simple lessons in reading and writing for adults in refugee camps to shelter and education for street children. Students are also able to access life skills training, workforce development opportunities and nutrition programs.
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Salesian Missions – Angola
UNICEF – Angola