Seventeen years after the end of a war of almost three decades that devastated the country, Angola still tries to heal the wounds caused by the old internal conflicts, many of them not closed. Social inequality is striking in the African country, and the population suffers with the lack of basic social cares in the areas of health, food, sanitation, education, housing, security and job opportunities.
The civil war caused an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, with the internal displacement of more than 4 million Angolans, who fled specially from rural areas, seeking some hope of survival in urban centers. In the outskirts of Luanda, the capital and biggest city of Angola, it is possible to verify the sad legacy left by the war.
It is in this scenario that the team of the 22nd Humanitarian Mission of Fraternidade – International Humanitarian Missions (FMHI) begins the second part of its action, which began in Lebanon on May 22. In Luanda since June 16, the team of Fraternidade has the mission of helping the Children’s Work of Charity of Santa Isabel, an organization officially founded in 2012 to help low-income families, specially children, of the big communities of Cazenga and Viana, poor districts of the Angolan capital.
“Misery here is evidente and everything is very precarious. There is an excess of people in the cities, which suffer with problems of water and energy supply, high malnutrition rate, specially of children, many of them abandoned, among other evils. It is still possible to see the marks and the pain caused by the war in the countenances of adults and youths, in their gaze. The children, however, are lighter, more joyful, for they did not directly live the horrors of war, but are very needy”, says Rosi Freitas, the coordinator of the 22nd Mission.
Children’s Charity Work of Santa Isabel
On the first days of activity in the orphanage of the Children’s Charity Work of Santa Isabel, the team of Fraternidade has already done a little of everything to help the institution. This included fun with the children, pre-adolescents and adolescents – they are 120 ages up to 18 – and recreational workshops, where the making of artisanal pieces, such as little angels, was taught to them, which had already been very successful with the Syrian refugee children of the Lebanese orphanage in which the team had been active.
But there were also classes of educational support and participation of the team of Fraternidade in the literacy programs of Santa Isabel, besides a lot of maintenance work, such as painting of part of the facilities. With dentists in the team, Fraternidade can also bring dental assistance to the little ones of the institution, carrying out procedures such as cavity treatments, tooth cleaning and extractions of those who are ready to fall.
“These children are impressive. They don’t care much about the toys they receive, for example. They prefer contact with their fellow being; they have this need because they have difficult histories. And each one, their own way, has adopted one of us. They are children full of hope, who have a different background because they live in the House of Santa Isabel. They have learned to live in a group, to share and look after one another. They have the sense of brotherhood”, states Rosi.