Maria Delgado Freire

National Human Resource and Organistional Development Advisor SOS Children's Villages of Cape Verde

From Street to School

Watch the story trailer

In 2006 I was social worker. On that time SOS Cabo Verde had just started the family strengthening programme on Sao Vicente Island more specifically in the city of Mindelo.

I went to work in Mindelo with some of our programme partners. During our meeting they said that the major problem in the city of Mindelo was the situation of street children. They said that they were not able to resolve the situation.

After the meeting and during the night I walked around the city of Mindelo to observe the reality of street children on spot. During my walk I met a little boy, aged between 6 and 7 years, lying very cold at the sidewalk of a famous hotel in the city. I approached him and asked if he did not want to go to his house to take a shower and sleep with his family. His name is Alex1. He just said “no”. Alex explained to me that his house was the street. I was a little sad about that situation and asked him if he would like to go to dinner with me at a nearby restaurant. He said yes and he was hungry but the people working in the restaurant did not like him to enter the restaurant. I told them that Alex was my guest and he went all happy even "making fun" of the restaurant staff.

The next day, Alex came to me at the centre. I had invited him to come. He took a bath and had breakfast in the centre along with two more boys who were already there. This centre was provided by one of our partners the City Hall of Mindelo.

Also thanks to one of our partners we came into contact with Alex’ family to get more information about his situation. The mother expressed that she could apparently no longer bear to see the child on the street but she could not handle the situation. Alex did not want to return home so we convinced the mother to provide us with the documentation of the child so that he could be enrolled at school. She also gave her permission to let Alex sleep in our accommodation centre in the city of Mindelo. With her agreement and with all the documentation we managed the application of Alex at a school close to the centre through another partner. He began to study and reside at the centre.

I would like to highlight that through this little boy we were able to take some other children from the street to the centre and to school. Alex supported e.g. our social workers to help more street children. His family also received support from our social workers through home visits and counselling primarily for alcohol recovery and training to obtain a self-employment.

1 Original name has been changed to maintain confidentiality

Maria Delgado Freire

joined SOS Children's Villages of Cape Verde in 2003. Maria is the National Human Resources and Organisational Development Advisor.

She discovers gratitude and spirit of delivery as among the greatest treasures in her work. Discovering people’s capabilities, expectations and inclination to work and getting them in the very right appropriate positions form the magic wand to happiness at work! 

Growing up in SOS CV, she discovers the invaluable worth of family as a trusting and stable relationship; and this she enjoys with both her own family and her SOS mother. Visiting the SOS Village where she grew up with her own children is for her a source of joy. Sports and cooking give her another leash to happiness. Cape Verde with her 10 beautiful islands is for her, evidences of abundant pleasurable gifts of nature. In all these she finds contentment.