In the Land of S. Tomé and Príncipe

May / June 2018 By Miriam Mateus

In S. Tomé and Príncipe the vegetation is dense, impenetrable. One’s gaze is lost in the greenness. The palm trees, the breadfruit, the jack fruits fill the island as if it belonged to them. The land sprouts without being cultivated. Flowers grow without being ploughed. The compact humidity enriches the soil that produces cocoa, coffee, seven types of banana, cocoyams and anonas. The translucent waters embrace paradisiacal places. Nets always catch fish. Beautiful fish, red fish, sardines, groupers. All the children seem to dominate the artisanal fishing genius. People live on the street. Children are everyone’s children. Everyone keeps an eye on them... and thus they survive. Mothers carry their babies as though they were part of their own body. The colourful materials hug the baby, gluing it to the mother who cares, who consoles and who works simultaneously. Life is "light". You work to eat in the day. There is no anxiety or concern for the future. The hands of the clock pass by more softly in Africa. The seconds are prolonged. The minutes drag on. The hours are reluctant to end. Life seems to be slow to reach tomorrow. Everyday is washing day in the river. So many colours adorn the waters in the river. Its tide exercises its control over the extended materials. The women carry the baskets on their heads. They support the fruit, the fish to sell, the clothes and the water they fetched from the asscoiation’s taps.

What a contrast to the poorer and more remote villages that are invaded by piled up rubbish that nobody collects, by the wandering pigs and chickens that roam the dirt roads. This same dusty floor, which feels the footsteps of the broken, dirty, half -naked, survivor, barefooted child.

YWAM intervenes with 150 to 200 children from three to five years of age, through the provision of a kindergarten amongst senior citizens, through weekly support in personal and domestic hygiene, and to the community in general through capoeira and football schools, as well as the teaching of computer and music skills. YWAM has also supported the population in the construction of latrines in the most unprotected areas.

ABLA's mission is to serve the surrounding community in the educational, social and civic areas and to provide humanitarian assistance, with commitment, excellence and love for others, in a sustainable way and that strengthens the social fabric and inclusion in society. The ABLA was not indifferent to the many needs of S. Tomé and Principe and joined YWAM in this case. From child to child, from family to family, they open the way to new opportunities for the future.