AFRICA/ANGOLA - “To eliminate the scourge of child labour parents must be made to realise that that children are not the property of adults ” says Father Benedito who runs a Home for Children in southern Angola

Saturday, 13 March 2004

Lubango (Fides Service)-“Child labour is a social scourge in Angola involving thousands and thousands of children” Father Benedito Kapingara who opened and runs The Gospel of Life Children’s Home in Lubango diocese, southern Angola told Fides. “The phenomenon is complex. Here in Angola children are used mainly in three jobs: washing cars, finding taxi passengers for taxi buses, selling wars on the streets. In the case of the latter, if at the end of the day the child has not made a certain amount of money, he is severely punished. There is also the tragedy of children forced into prostitution ”.
“At the root of this sad phenomenon there is not only poverty, it is also a question of culture and customs in Angola” Father Benedito told Fides. “The reason is that people still consider children as the property of parents, or worse, of relatives if they children are orphans. There is no recognition for the rights of children ”.
“Exploitation of child labour is only one of the many forms of abuse to which children are subjected. Many of them end up on the streets to escape abuse in the home” the Religious said. “Once on the road they are prey to other violence or forced to accept heavy labour in order to eat”.
“At our Home we care for children who have suffered all kinds of abuse including forced labour. We have 67 children at the moment. Our main objective is to reunite them with their families. We also work with the families to try to educate them to a sense of family and stop this domestic violence and abuse which pushes children onto the streets ”.
Father Beneditto said he started taking care of children quite by chance. “In 1998 I was living at the Bishop’s House in Lubango, and one day someone brought us a street child with malaria. Everyday we took him to a clinic run by the Sisters of the Divine Saviour for treatment. When he was better we asked about his family and where he lived. He said his home was the Bishops’ House. His tragedy was like that of many other children in his situation. So I realised that there should be a home for these children and I opened our Home. We started with 11 children and today thanks to help from many people our Home is a point of reference for all the children in the area of Lubango”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 13/3/2004, righe 39 parole 503)