"We went with the mobile school to 'Vila Algarve' in Mozambique. The capital Maputo contains many abandoned houses from the colonial period. These houses are very dilapidated and often surrounded by high walls. Many of these houses are occupied by street children. We first thought that street children living in such houses would be sitting ducks in the case of a police raid. Nothing, however, could be farther from the truth. The houses have full basements and there are even secret passageways. Thus it is possible to flee 'Vila Algarve' to the beach, a few hundred meters further!
There are brokers who are seriously interested in making 'Vila Algarve' a hotel or an apartment building. The youth who live here, however, will not let that happen. Several police raids have tried to evict them, but the street children return each time.
Some 40 young people live at 'Vila Algarve'. Most are boys 15 or older (the oldest is 30). Ten girls also live here as does a 1.5 year old boy who was born here. Making photos inside was not allowed; trust was still in an early stage. The situation in which these young people live is extremely difficult to describe. But here is an attempt:
The group has created rooms in the building, separated with curtains for a minimum of privacy
All the girls work as prostitutes. They also have a friend at 'Vila Algarve'. They accompany the girls while working and thus ensure their safety. The girls earn between € 0.75 and € 1 per customer.
The girls do the wash for the entire group
It is not clear who the mother and father of the year and a half old boy are. Everyone takes care of him; he appears to belong to all.
Upon entering the 'Villa', we encounter some 20 young people. Most look very disinterested, a few are clearly already under the influence of tentacao (cheap alcohol) or marihuana.
The smallest resident, however, is immediately thrilled. We wave together in the mirror, he writes on the blackboard. Gradually the others follow. Hesitatingly in the beginning, eagerly thereafter. They want to learn, especially when they realise they can. Tough twenty year olds stand next to a toddler writing on the board. Great writing talent surfaces. But other educational tools also attracted interest. Zeze fills in the hundred square (learning tool that teaches how to count to 100) and is proud as punch when she succeeds. Some come only to chat and Erik wants to play Uno. He is going to make sure he has a game with him the next time we come!" Rob & Lies from Mobile School