Shelter Centre

January 30 2023 | by

FOR MANY children in far flung corners of the world it can be a real struggle to receive a good education. The children in the villages of the Luinga commune, Cuanza Norte province, Angola, are no exception: there is no education available beyond Grade 7. The villages of the Luinga commune lie some 50 kilometres from the municipal city of Cambatela. Kids who want to continue their education either have to walk for hours along dangerous roads to get there, or get a lift from relatives or acquaintances. After arriving in Cambatela they often live alone and have little or no guidance from any adult who could act as a reference point. Sadly, this can often result in the children dropping out of school – or worse.


Sister Rita


“Girls especially are at high risk of sexual abuse,” says Sister Rita Lourenço Luís, Director of the Mission Development Office for the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. “And for cultural reasons if they drop out of school this can also lead to early marriage and pregnancy. None of this helps the girls’ growth and development, and leaves them with no opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. If, on the other hand, they have the opportunity to continue their studies at high school they have better living conditions and, one day, are able to get a decent job, do something different from their parents, and even help them economically in the future.”


Reception building


The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd in Angola and Mozambique is present in six communities, including Cambatela, where it has been operating since 1968. It carries out programmes in many fields including those of human rights, protection of children and women, education and literacy, vocational training, maternal and child health, agriculture, food security, and environmental protection. “Our mission is to live and express the merciful love of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, with women, young people, and children who are exploited and marginalised, where the struggle for justice and peace is oriented towards the rescue of dignity and promoting significant change in their lives,” explains Sr. Rita.

To help girls from the Luinga commune villages and other villages in the surrounding area, the Congregation planned a reception building to house girls who came to the regional capital to continue their studies. The Adolescent Shelter Centre would consist of three dormitories, a study and training room, bathrooms, a balcony, dining room and a kitchen. It would have the capacity to accommodate 42 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18.


Our help


The project started in 2020 with financial assistance from the German province of the Congregation (€16,800) and from the Banco do Fomento Angola (€12,800). The intention was that this financing would continue into 2021. However, due to the worsening of economic conditions, further funding failed to materialise. The project was approximately 60 percent complete, but was lacking €38,000 to finish the work – €22,800 for the remaining construction work, and €15,200 to set up and furnish the Centre. St. Anthony’s Charities was approached to provide the funding, and this was approved in October 2021.

On receipt of the first tranche of funds, a project meeting was held with the contractors to determine what activities were more pressing. The decision of the meeting was to use the funds to complete the masonry work, floors, paving, skirting boards, electrical and plumbing works, and fixing the zinc roof. Following receipt of the second tranche in November 2021, a further meeting was held and it was decided to use the funds to complete the zinc roofing, tile the floors and walls in the kitchen and install worktops, finish the ceilings and surround the building with paving. It was also possible to purchase 25 beds, mattresses, and blankets. The final part of the funding arrived in June 2022 and allowed all of the construction work to be completed. Unfortunately, it was necessary to prioritise the purchase of furniture and equipment from the budget due to currency fluctuations and scarcity of materials. The project was, however, completed satisfactorily in September 2022.


Successful project


“The girls of the Luinga commune now have the opportunity to continue their education and training safely with a much reduced degree of vulnerability and the guarantee of a better future,” says Sr. Rita. “It has also strengthened the mission of the Sisters to protect women, adolescents, and young people, safeguarding their lives and their dignity.”

To help sustain the Centre into the future, the parents of the adolescents who come to the residence will provide contributions of local products, and will guarantee food assistance and payments for services and maintenance of the building. The Congregation itself will also contribute to the budget through income generation activities at its vocational training centre.

“The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd in Angola and Mozambique would like to thank St. Anthony’s Charities and the readers of the Messenger of Saint Anthony for their financial support of our project,” concludes Sister Marcelina Manuel Dormingos do Nascimento, Sector Coordinator of the Congregation for Angola and Mozambique. “The residency is contributing to the mission’s responsiveness as well as guaranteeing rights to protection, education, training, and safeguarding human life.

“We had many challenges in executing the project, which caused us to be noncompliant with the schedule and unpunctual in our communications. We hope you will accept our apologies and continue to support us in our realisation of the Charisma of the Good Shepherd in relieving the suffering of the most vulnerable. But for now, with the most high esteem and consideration, we say our farewells and wish you great work with much success.”



Updated on January 31 2023