With a small quarterly sum, hundreds of children in Mozambique might have a more promising future.
Godparents of Portugal was the brainchild of the journalist Catarina Serra Lopes who, after having been involved in various charitable missions in Brazil and Cabo Verde while at university, mede her way to Mozambique where she discovered a project for the future. «Mozambique was to be my last mission, as I had already started working. I thought it would be better to do something with more continuity, which would last longer than two or three months». On her return she made the decision to create an association to help children in Africa. This is how in 2002, the Godparents of Portugal project came about. «It work as a semi-boarding home in a village of Alto da Manga in Beira. The beneficiaries are needy children of school age, those with only one parent or orphans being looked after by family members. The benefactors are Portuguese people who would want to be a goodparent to a child for a quarterly sum. This money would pay for food, health and education». Despite her high hopes, Catarina remembers that to begin with it is quite difficult: «When I returned to Portugal I practically forced my friends to join the cause. The godparents had to give 75 euros every three months. There were only ten children and it was difficult to get the project off the ground, but things started moving forward. After a year I found another 20 children, after a further two years another 20 children». With the growth of the project it was necessary to expand the initial centre in Alto da Manga by creating two new centres: Marraquene on the outskirts of the capital Maputo, and Praia Nova, also in Beira.
Godparents of Portugal currently helps 400 children of pre-school and school age (between 2 and 14 years of age). «If it weren’t for this project, the majority of children wouldn’t study because education needs to be paid for. The idea is that they be sponsored by godparents until they finish school». In the specially designed centres the little ones get two meals a day and after school help. The cost of adopting a godchild is now 85 euros every three months. This cover education, food and health expenses for each child.
Text by Maria Ventura in Up (June 08)