An orphans and vulnerable children program in Mozambique helps boys and girls receive necessities and provides them with loving caretakers
The children sat in neat rows underneath a large tree that provided shade from the sweltering Mozambican sun. They were quiet and wide-eyed as they stared at stacks of notebooks and unsharpened pencils. Their teachers, who they call caretakers, were sitting behind them.
Abilio Filipe, the director of this association of caretakers and children, stood in front of the group. He spoke swiftly in Portuguese as he explained that the notebooks and pencils weren’t simply gifts.
Although Samaritan’s Purse staff members were present as the boys and girls received the new school supplies, we didn’t give them to the children. Instead, we taught them and their caretakers to raise chickens. Once the chickens were old enough, the association sold the birds and used the proceeds for the school supplies.
Now that they know how to raise their own animals, the association won’t be reliant on others to provide necessities for the children. They can provide for themselves.
“I think it’s a good program because it brings benefits to the orphans, and it’s also a program of humanity,” Filipe said. “I like to see children healthy. I like to see children playing.”
Some of the children in the association have grandparents or widowed mothers caring for them, but these women don’t have enough money to provide beyond very basic needs. They bring them to the association to help fill in the gaps.
“I go farming to buy things for my family,” said Saloma Mapulangune, who is raising several of her grandchildren. “This money is only for food. I don’t have money to buy, for instance, blankets and clothes. We don’t have a mat to put on the ground. These are the challenges I’ve been facing.”
Many of the children are orphans. They call their teachers caretakers because they provide in more ways than education.
For Laura Maculuve, the help she is able to provide is personal. As Filipe handed out the notebooks, Maculuve gathered a few children in a circle and began teaching them. As she talked, her love for the children poured out.
“I was orphan since I was a child,” she said. “We had a boarding school where orphans lived, and now I see that I can help orphans as I was helped when I was child.”
The program is primarily designed to care for the orphans and vulnerable children, but it benefits the entire community. One caretaker pointed out that sharing resources creates a better life for everyone. Within the program, people aren’t just learning how to take care of children in need. They’re also learning the important truth of the Gospel.
“When I understood the program, I saw they have a different message,” Mapulangune said. “They have a message of believing God. I think this is most important.”
She pointed to her heart.
“When we meet here in our community and they speak about the Gospel, it feeds this part of me,” she said. “And then when we are hungry, they come with food.”
Providing a Mother for Needy Children
This association is just one component of Samaritan’s Purse orphans and vulnerable children programs in Mozambique. We also help traditional orphans who have no one to care for them and who are often raising their younger siblings. We train mentors to help feed, clean, and care for these children.
Outside of a town called Zavala, our staff is helping a teenage girl named Florencia. Her father died several years ago, leaving her mother to care for the family until she died of AIDS nearly two years ago. Since then, Florencia has been raising her younger brothers. A difficult situation is even more of a challenge because she’s deaf, making it difficult for her to communicate.
Samaritan’s Purse trained two of her neighbors to help take care of the children. Each day, Maria Cardoso and Fabion Gica teach, clean, and cook for them.
But it’s not just about helping the children. It’s also about showing them the love that their parents would show them if they were still alive.
“I am like a mother for them,” Cardoso said. “This is not an activity that I can spend just a few minutes [doing], but I spend almost the whole day when I come here.”
While helping the children with daily activities, chores, and learning, Cardoso also teaches them important messages from the Bible.
“When I come here to visit them, I always have a speech from the Bible, and I teach them that we have to be good to other people,” she said. “Then we pray. Every Sunday I take these children to the church.”
There are more than 3,000 children in our orphan program, and we have trained volunteers to care for each of them. However, the need is still great. There is an estimated 1.6 million orphans in Mozambique. Please pray as we continue to expand our programs, that we can locate children in need and volunteers who will care for them.