Angola has recently emerged from a 27 year civil war, a war with a few interruptions that has raged across the country from 1975 until 2002 and has left behind deep wounds in the population. It claimed numerous lives, plunged millions into poverty and misery and left many churches, presbyteries and religious houses in ruins. The war left also tens of thousands of children orphans. They are defenceless, victims of all kinds of violence, sexual abuse, drugs, theft and physical exploitation. Many of these were child soldiers, encouraged to kill.
The Catholic Church in Angola is trying to help develop the necessary structures to combat this situation. The “Casa Margarida” in the capital Luanda is a one such centre for street children. Guided by the Salesian priest, Fr. Julio Barrientos, it is home to fifty street children, in which courses in literacy, primary education as well as electronics, refrigeration and computing are offered. As Fr Julio states: “There will always be a street, there will always be a child. And that child will ask us with his gaze, ‘What have you done to get me out from here?’ And so I will walk always the streets…”.