Monday, August 6, 2018

A different month, a different guest in HIV Day Center!

In July we had a very special volunteer, the psychologist Ácio! With this week coming to an end, Ácio has completed 1 month of volunteering full of success, valuable contributions and smiles.
Ácio has been working in our HIV Day Center, located inside the School of Santa Luisa Marillac, having as main goal to guide our children giving quality and specialized support.
The psychologist Ácio has contributed to the monitoring of the children with a new approach working at the psychological, emotional and academic level.
During the activities the methodologies and materials used were various such as didactic materials, games and ludic activities to stimulate affectivity, interaction and social insertion, logical and abstract cognitive, the use of the Portuguese Language, confidence and the academic potential of the children.

A big THANKS for the hard work and dedication of the volunteer Ácio!


Friday, July 20, 2018

News from EFI: the story of Fortunato

The young Abel, hired for hardly a year as our technician in the Pre School Escolinha Flower of Infancy (EFI), continues to increase his involvement in the school. This week he went to visit the child Fortunato.

Abel wanted to understand his behaviour more, as he was trouble in school, not following rules. More problematic, he was often coming to school dirty showing signs he had no care or bath before coming to school.
Abel met his grandmother “Tia Maria” (from the father´s side) who actually works at our pre school as a cook and she told him the sad story of Fortunato. His stepmother does not want the child at home and they dropped Fortunato at his other grandmother (from the mother´s side). However, this lady is blind and unable to cook at home, often eating at the home of relatives, which led Fortunato to often beg for food amongst his neighbours.

In light of this, Tia Maria decided to enrol the child in the Escolinha. The absence of a parent as a younger child means he follows no rules. Tia Maria promised to try harder making him understand the need for rules and obedience. And more importantly, the teachers at the school now understand his background and will also make a double effort.

We keep our fingers crossed for Fortunato and hope this ALG pre-school can help him grow to be an amazing little boy!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Dealing with Failure: the case of Isaurinha

Sometimes children die on us. But it is not often. It is part of our basis to provide children with access to food and basic health services. So we have that as an extremely sporadic event. It saddens us and makes us wonder what could we have done to avoid it, like with our Belide who passed away earlier this year.
But the real disappointment comes more often than death, and it is called deception. We build our resilience to focus on the successes, because we know the hit rate is tough, especially as kids get older, especially when we deal with girls. Maybe that is why we had our hopes so high for Isaurinha. She was one of our first Uni Scholarships and had been with us from a very young age. She was part of my ‘first group’ and through the years we watched her grow and become a young woman, wanting to study and staying away from the usual path for other girls - teenage pregnancy.

We gave her all that we believed was possible. She chose to move cities from her home in Xai-Xai and pursue a degree in Chokwe. We financed her tuition and supported her housing expenses. We interceded with the Local Partner the Vicentine nuns to give her a decent and protected place to stay, and asked for understanding when this promising 18 year old girl sometimes arrived past the 9 o’clock curfew. Multiple times she was given an ultimatum to change her erratic behaviour and multiple times we interceded with our Local Partner to give her one more chance. She always had good excuses, and most importantly, she always demonstrated a genuine interest in her studies.

Deep inside we always knew she was a tough case, in that limbo between taking the opportunity to break through and just following the world around her. Communication deteriorated at points. We require the ALG Uni Scholarship students to send news and grades on a regular basis to keep their scholarship. We know it is easy for them to go astray. And so did Isaurinha.

Today we found out about months of deception, where she seems to have dropped her 3rd year at University months ago, if she registered this year at all. The local nun that had warmed up to her and to supporting her is heart broken. Our trust in these older students falters. Despite the tight system we run around all of them, it still fails.

And yes, I am heartbroken too. Saddened by her choice. Saddened by my inability to explain to her how important this opportunity was to change the life she has. It was not by lack of trying. Isaurinha is personally financed by one of our ALG Trustees, who in her last trip had this same conversation with her. We all did.

Our knee jerk reaction is to ask all Uni Scholars for renewed immediate proof of their studies or otherwise cancel their scholarship next month. But our true reaction is one much deeper and emotional. We wonder if we can change this cycle, we wonder how we can change this. We want to change this cycle. We have to. So we need to remember those who made it - Hilario, Silvestre, Joaquim, Graça, Eduardo, Gil, Helio, Mauricio, Helder... - and learn from them more than we learn from our deceptions.

Sara Vicente.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Our little ones get moving at the SVP Pre-School!

Today we received a school report from our vibrant Pre-School in S. Vicente de Paulo. We are increasingly proud of our young Local Technicians who stay close to the children and their day to day activities, so we are always pleased to get happy smiles and detailed news. This time, our technician Jaime sent us a weekly report which almost allowed us to be inside the classroom and their play time!

First, the children were learning about families – the names used to describe different family relatives through pictures. They also worked hard on their colours, using the colours of the flag of Mozambique (green, white, black, yellow, red) to practice their newly acquired skills. Jaime highlighted 2 young girls – Nalicia, who can tell any colour by its correct name and Belquisse, who draws and colours extremely well! We look forward to see some of her artwork!

A tougher task was to ask the children to tell a story from home, or a tale from their grandparents. The children struggled to start, but almost all ended up participating in the end. We are very proud of all them.

To round up, the week still included some movement and sport, namely football, to go aligned with the Football Season! 

Friday, June 29, 2018

The best Academic-Sport competitions ever!!

Last weekend we have opened our new Academic-Sport competitions SVP & SLM. There were a football matches between the 2 Chokwé Programms: São Vicente de Paulo vs Santa Luísa de Marillac, it was a very joyful day. 21 children from SVP and another 21 from SLM have participated and we had a female match as well as a male one.

We discovered great talents among our girls: Leia Atalia Chivambo, Dervela Matavel and Leonilda Mavenga. All of them scored 1 goal!

Among the boys Pedro Milion Cossa and Abel Tui stood out since both of them scored 2 goals!

The event was a success and our children loved it! Friendship and commitment were the key words of the day.
The second session of the Academic-Sport competitions SVP & SLM is already scheduled and it will happen in July!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Thank you ALMT

We are delighted...ALMT is giving our preschool for the THIRD time!!
Thank you!!


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Our Belide passed away...

"Mana" Patricia Acquaviva and Belide at the SLM HIV Centre, September 2016
Today is not a happy day for ALG. Our young Belide passed away.

At ALG every day is made of small setbacks and huge happiness. 

There is a lot of happiness: every time a child transitions to the next grade, every time a girl does not abandon school because she became pregnant too early, every time a mum leaves her little child safe in a pre-school to go to work and earn a meagre salary for her family… every time this happens it is a happy time for ALG. Every time a sponsor gives us a word of encouragement and show us how happy they are for having a child of their “own” is a happy day for ALG. 

Belide Jorge Ubisse was one among the almost 2´500 children ALG supports every year. 
It is easy to get lost in numbers and names of so many little faces that show sadness and happiness at the same time, that are hungry but positive, who have with aching bodies from years of deprivation, but who have also bright eyes full of hope just like every child growing up. Resistant. Resilient. Little heroes. 

But Belide was not just another face. He stayed in my memory as a child who, already an orphan, was also infected with HIV, along with his little sister Maria. He was with ALG since 2011, 11 years recently celebrated in a poor house and in poor health. 
He entered our SLM HIV Day Care Centre almost 4 years ago when he was studying at the SLM school. He continued living in his poor house made of clay and zinc sheets with one single room, looked after by a caring, but also ill, aunt and by his older brother who drives local buses, and was constantly away working, but who loved Belide very much. 
Every quarter, among the 30 children who also attended the Centre, he was always the one I looked first to check his grades. I was amazed by the child who, despite the hardship and struggle, managed to be one of the best students. I wanted to meet him in person, I watched as he wrote a letter to Filipa, his sponsor in ALG in London; I discovered his good writing skills and firm handwriting, a boy with a bright head and a future ahead of him. "Our Belide will be one of our university scholarship holders" we all said and believed proudly.
Last year he began skipping days at the Centre where he received adequate food and medical assistance... well into his teens, he already wanted to stay with the older kids in the school´s common playground. We built a football field at the Centre, thinking of fragile kids just like him less attracted by the Centre, and won him back again. They ran after a soccer ball and in turn received their medical care and a good meal. And then they went back to study, their only solution. “HIV is not going to win! Look at Belide!”

When they appear, ALG ‘s daily setbacks always seem huge. It is communications with the ground that come late, it is donors who disappear without donating, it is flat tires on dirt roads when ALG technicians are trying to reach a sick family... it is weeks just like this past one, preparing emails over emails to respect European GDPR privacy data… It is grown up problems.  

But today, Friday the 18th May, Belide passed away. Over the past two months he was more absent, not feeling well, on and off the local and respected Carmelo hospital. The news that came from the hospital, so far way, seemed so close and touched us very deeply. We asked them to be more specific. We wanted to know if it was a tuberculosis crisis that affects so many other children at the HIV Day Care Centre, or another unknown illness. But does it really matter... What matters is that our future scholarship holder, a bright mind and loving brother to little Maria, Belide is no longer with us. What matters is that we can no longer look at Belide. 

It matters the effort our donors make in helping us to build our projects, the hours of laborious work ALG Local Partners spend on the ground fighting against a relentless reality. It matters the years ALG has been trying to save vulnerable children. And it matters that we cannot give up, because HIV must not win. The lack of education and opportunity must not win. Poverty is not going to win. 
Because day by day other children like Belide will be scholarship holders with the great help of ALG friends and sponsors.

Our setbacks no longer seem so small, nor the happiness so constant.

Today we lost Belide, and it is not a happy day for ALG. 

mana Patricia Acquaviva, ALG Founding Trustee

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

ALG´s Best Practices at work!

At ALG we thrive to follow Best Practices since day one - and we now set them in paper.

Get to know a bit better how our Little Gestures work!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Day 25: Merry Christmas full of little Gestures. Thank you very much to all who help us to grow every day!

In 2017, your support to ALG helped c. 2’500 beneficiaries, mainly underprivileged children, many of them orphan and vulnerable. We continue growing mainly with the help of Volunteers and minimal administrative costs. We rely mostly upon our friends’ word of mouth and on ALG’s Friends and Friendly Companies fund raising campaigns to limit headquarters’ expenditures. Our heartfelt THANK YOU to all!

Since our launch in 2005 up to 2017, ALG and our sister charity UPG Portugal registered in Sponsoring initiatives:
· £1.2 MM generously raised by you 
· £1.1 MM already invested on the field benefiting UPG Sponsored children in Xai-Xai, Chokwé and Chongoene
· In 2017 alone, we supported 877 children through direct, individual and loving sponsoring initiatives.
Over a decade ago, ALG has been developing, jointly with our sister charity Um Pequeno Gesto, local Projects that strengthen our support to sponsored children. This year our projects more than 50% were Education projects (from Pre-schools to University Scholarships), 20% were Infra-structure projects such as Family housing, and 20% Poverty relief initiatives such as our HIV Day Care Centre. 

Since 2005, your Great Help has totalled:

· £2.1 MM raised between 2005-2016, £2.4 MM2005-2017YTD
· £1.6 MM invested on the field between 2005-2016, £1.8 MM 2006-2017YTD

In 2018, we want to enlarge the ALG family, continue investing in our children’s Education, secure the School Meals Programme and the HIV Day Care Centre at SLM School. We want to launch more Income Generation Programmes, support extremely underprivileged families and children and break the cycle of poverty step-by-step.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH to everyone who enable us to fulfil ALG’s dream of improving the lives of children, families, youngsters and elderly in Mozambique. Every Little Gesture Helps!