Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cris, ALG Ambassador, met Mariana!

In the beginning of April, Cris who embraced the UPG Portugal volunteering “adventure” with all her strengths gave us her heartfelt testimony today revealing her experience as a UPG PortugaSponsor. 
"In 2013 when I first sponsored Mariana under the UPG Portugal Sponsoring programme I was far from imagining that I would meet her so soon! The first picture I saw of her showed me a sweet girl, with short hair and a shy smile who immediately won me over. Throughout these two years I received Easter and Christmas postcards, and I was also kept up to date with Mariana’s school results which made me feel hugely proud to know she was happy and continuing her studies. 
When I arrived at Santa Luísa de Marillac School, in Mozambique, to start my work as a UPG Portugal volunteer in the beginning of April, I immediately asked about Mariana… When she arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes... She had the same shy face, but now she is a beautiful young lady, who is taller than me! All I was able to say was “I am your Sponsor”! …Mariana smiled and gave me a strong hug. 
Marina is 15 years old, and she’s in the 8th grade. The teachers say she’s committed and hard working. Like her sponsor she loves Portuguese and English, and her dream is to be a Portuguese and English Teacher. At home and in school she helps with the cooking and cleaning.
Every day we see each other, and spend some time together after lunch. Each day that goes by Marina smiles and shares a little bit more of herself.
It is thanks to ALG and UPG sponsoring programme that Mariana has had access to education and to balanced meals that help her continuing her studies. More importantly, UPG Portugal also gave us the huge joy of creating such strong ties between us despite the distance. Thank you UPG Portugal and ALG!"

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Baking away! Happy children at ALG Technical Courses

Sister Antónia and Mano Cristóvão teaching the pupils
The ALG Technical Education at Santa Luísa de Marillac School, as witnessed this week by volunteer and funding partner Cristiana R.

"Last summer I decided to take on a challenge to raise funds for A Little Gesture. The challenge couldn’t have been more fun – bungee jumping at Tatton Park in Cheshire! And the cause was most noble, as I set myself to raise £1,000 to fund a technical course for a whole year at Santa Luísa de Marillac School in Manjangue.

The challenge was accomplished (not without a lot of screaming as I jumped, of course!) and most importantly we exceeded our target, raising an impressive £1,224.97 (with gift aid).

One of the pupils cutting the dough
As I’m now volunteering at that same school together with Mana Patrícia for UPG, last week we attended a Cooking Class with Sister Antónia and Mano Cristóvão to see for ourselves how these technical courses are making a difference.

The class started promptly at 9am with eight students gathering at a kitchen built in the school grounds. Sister Antónia and Mano Cristóvão provided the ingredients and guided the students, as they cooked the most delicious morning snack. By 10.30am we had 200 small cakes ready to be sold at a price of 1 Mozambican New Metical each.
The students were really excited. They quickly learned the ropes and took over the cooking! Seeing the end result couldn't have been more satisfying. The smiles on everyone's faces said it all – they were happy and proud of their achievement!

Technical education is key in providing skill-based training aiming at a potential job and future self-sufficiency. 
It was a huge privilege for us to see first-hand how our donations and support are helping and making a difference in these pupils' lives."

Contact us if you would like to know more about our efforts in bringing skills based education to underprivileged schools in Mozambique!

young girl deep frying the small cakes
The end result! 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Join ALG for the exhilarating Pru 100-mile bike ride!

Contact us now for slots - Deadline May 1st!
Event: Prudential RideLondon – Surrey 100 
Date: Sunday, August 2nd 2015
Challenge: Cycling 
Distance: 100 Miles
Fundrasing amount: £500 (incl. slot)
Created by the London 2012 Olympic Games this exhilarating 100 mile closed road bike ride takes you through central London and into Surrey’s stunning countryside. Shortly after completing the ride participants will also have the opportunity to watch 150 professional cyclists take on the same route, including some of Britain’s best Olympians. 

Your participation will raise funds for the SLM School Feeding programme. Your effort will feed 800 very poor kids daily!ALG requests you to pay £100 to sign-in now* and fundraise £400 on behalf of our children and the feeding programme. We will support you all the way through campaigning and on race day with a cheering team, racing vests, social media support and fundrasing tips. Get your friends & colleagues to join your race and donate for each hard mile you will cycle!
*ALG purchases your £200 slot fee directly with the race organisers

Monday, April 20, 2015

Little Heroes on the Road to Maputo

This Monday we tell you a different tale.

We* returned to Maputo for more meetings. In Xai-Xai the weather was scary overnight with heavy thunderstorms and all the downpours of a typical tropical storm. In the comfort of our simple beds, it is hard not to think of our ALG children, knowing as we do the miserable quality of their family huts.

Along the road, still before 7am, we see children of all ages walking, from tiny tots to the older ones, alone or in small groups. They walk under the heavy rain, unguarded and unprotected. The few carrying school bags, still manage to protect their books and notepads. Their (inadequate) clothes will eventually dry, in their bodies, at school, throughout the day...

Little heroes that, empty bellies and under strong sun or heavy rain, will still walk for miles to school, daily, searching for a better future.

They will be more used to the difficult circumstances  For us, it is still very touching to realise how challenging their life is since they are born.

We cannot change the world at once, but every Little Gesture counts and is a Great Help!
Together for the Children

Ana Nina, Head of Sponsoring and Operations UPG Portugal

17th April 2015

* The ALG and UPG Portugal team visiting local operations

Sunday, April 19, 2015

ALG has a new Local Partner in the SVP school!

ALG has a new Local Partner in the SVP - Sao Vicente de Paulo school in Chokwé, southern Mozambique. She is lovely, hardworking and very dedicated to the children!

Sister Alice was born on the 14th of November 1974, in Maputo, and she is the youngest of 8 brothers. In 1997 she was admitted in the Daughters of Charity Congregation, currently completing 17 years of religious life. She has a high school degree of primary teacher. In 2006 she took the degree of Education Planning, Administration and Management. During her studies period Sister Alice was also Headmistress of SLM School (Manjangue), and taught at the Matola School. In 2010 she was transferred to the Xinavane School where she taught from the 1st to the 10th grade, also working as Educational Deputy Headmistress, and History and Portuguese Teacher for the 8th and 9th grades. In November 2014 she arrived in Chokwé where she is currently at the SVP School.

ALG has several intervention programmes in the impoverished community of SVP, Chokwé, in cooperation with sister charity UPG Portugal. Alongsinde an extensive Sponsoring programme for 170 children, we also support the community with projects on Education (after-class study centres, technical courses, uni scholarships) and Infrastructure (family huts and one-off school reconstruction and maintenance initiatives). 

Welcome to the ALG family Sister Alice!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lourenço S., and why we are so proud of our ALG children!

Lourenço Luís Sitoe is a 19 year old young man, who lives in Chókwè. Growing up he was part of the Sponsoring programme ran by our sister charity UPG Portugal. He had lived all by himself since he was only 6 years of age in a hut without proper living conditions. The only support he received came from our organisation and from the Vicentine Sisters.

Lourenço with Anabela N., head of Sponsoring UPG Portugal
In 2013 he gave up studying, and in 2014 he got a job in a store (PEP). Because he wanted to go back to school and the schedules were not compatible the Sisters found him a job at the Carmelo Hospital, ran by the Daughters of Charity Vincentian Sisters. Now he works from 07:00h to 15h30. It takes him around 3h to walk to and from the Hospital, and he earns 500 Meticais a month.
After a long working day, Lourenço goes to school at 18h (he’s currently in the 10th grade), and he gets home around 00h00.

In 2014 ALG financed the construction of a new home for Lourenço. During the latest visit to the families on the 13th of April UPG Portugal volunteers were surprised … the house “disappeared”! Through his hard work, Lourenço managed to save some money and rebuilt the house in a higher place. Previously the house was located in a ditch and got flooded every time it rained.

Now Lourenço keeps on saving to be able to build the floor and apply windows. He dreams about being a nurse and continues working at the Hospital which has welcomed him in the past year.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Patricia, volunteer with UPG, shares her first views of the ground

"Chongoene, April 2015

We have just arrived and already have so many adventures to tell! Everything here is a challenge. Each day we face and win another battle, with the help of the good vibes from this land. The scents, colours, flavours, and smiles inspire us every minute of the day.
 Patricia F. with UPG Portugal staff Anabela N., Joana P. and Sister Aparecida, Local Partner in Chongoene

We already visited the Sisters House in Maputo, where we were welcomed as family. We also visited the Little School of André in Xai-Xai where we also had a warm reception. Sisters Beta and Aparecida are the best hostesses ever, always worried about our wellbeing adaptation and, above all, always in a good mood!
Now we are saying goodbye to Chongoene. 

Tomorrow we will head out to our final destination – Chokwé! We are eager to start working and contribute to the “Great Help” ALG is providing to these Mozambican children, proudly witnessed by all the local partners we have been meeting.

To be part of all this is a privilege! To be able to help such a trustworthy and successful Charity like sister-charities UPG and ALG gives life a new meaning!"

Patricia and Cristinana will stay for 2 months helping our projects and travelled with a team of 2 staff members from UPG Portugal visiting the local operations.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cris - From Leeds to ALG in Mozambique and loving it!

Two young ladies, Cris R. and Patricia F., have just landed in Mozambique as volunteers with our sister charity UPG Portugal. They will stay for 2 months helping our projects and travelled with a team of 2 staff members from Portugal visiting the local operations.

These are her heartfelt first impressions of the ground!

Chongoene, 11th April 2015

"From Leeds to Oporto in Portugal and then Lisbon - the is how this trip started, so long but so, so longed for! In Lisbon I met Mana [big sister] Patricia, another volunteer and my travel companion for these two months. I also reunited with UPG Portugal's Mana Anabela, Head of Sponsoring, and Mana Joana, Projects Assistant. They shared lots of valuable tips and we got off to a great start!

As we left the airplane in Maputo on Thursday morning, our first shock was the weather - so hot and humid (so different from England..). Thankfully our bodies get used to things quickly!We passed lots of customs burocracies and immediately fell into the warm arms and welcoming smiles of Sisters Aparecida and Beta, ALG Local Partners on Mozambique.it was like arriving home and having our families waiting for us :-)

Past the traffic and confusion reigning on the streets in Maputo, we were welcomed in the Sister's house with a lovely breakfast (what a nice bread!!) and we spent the day in town taking care of all the logistics for the following days. On Friday, after a much needed rest, we took off to Xai-Xai with Sister Beta on the wheels and the company of the young Mano Hilario, ALG General Coordinator in Mozambique. It was a long but very cheerful trip where we even enjoyed a great snack with caju nuts on the way. 

I think this was the moment when i stopped and realised - I have arrived to Mozambique. it is difficult to find the right words and not even photographs help you describe the richness and immensity of the landscapes, the people, the colour of the earth...!
In Xai-Xai and Chongoene we met Arnaldo, a very entrepreneurial young man who is also a Local Technician for ALG and just launched a new income generation IT centre. We met the Sister community in the Escolinha do Andre, sponsored by UPG Portugal since 2008, who waited for us with lovely coffee and cakes - Sister helena, Mum Victoria and so many others who all received us with open arms.

A huge khanimambo to you all!"
Crist R. with UPG Portugal team Anabela N. and Joana P, and Sister Aparecida from Chongoene - fully loaded with presents for the ALG children!
Cristiana has launched 3 amazing personal fundraising campaigns on behalf of ALG to date - including an impressive bungee-jump over a year ago. Her latest challenge here was to raise funds to ALG's School Feeding programme in the SLM School.
You can still help her contribute to the over 800 meals served daily by ALG at that school - Donate now!

Friday, April 10, 2015

A new Hut for Marcelino!

Our dear friend Virgínia is organizing a challenge in Portugal to raise £580 to build Marcelino’s Hut.

The construction or recuperation of huts extends ALG’s aid beyond education and nourishment, complementing these goals with a dignified living environment for all the family.
The ALG Housing intervention area gives children like Marcelino more than a roof over his head. With the house rehabilitation support, the Right to Food and Housing is fulfilled as per the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. A proper place for children to live in promotes their psychological and social development, and feelings of protection, comfort and safety.

Do you want to run your own campaign too? – Charitable Gourmet, Athlete for a good cause or a Cause to Celebrate? ALG will help to make your Campaign a success! Contact us at info@alittlegesture.org

Thursday, April 9, 2015

New latrines for families at Nhancutse community!

In March ALG built latrines for 17 families at Nhancutse community in Chogoene.

The main goal of these infrastructures is to provide minimum living conditions for underprivileged children and youngsters, supported by ALG. Several families in Mozambique do not have a latrine, nor access to basic sanitation. This is, usually the source of many serious health problems. An improved latrine allows these families to benefit from better living conditions and will help to create hygiene habits, increasing children’s living standards. 

More photos here

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Women’s Day in Mozambique

Today is Women’s Day in Mozambique and ALG celebrates it by honouring all our moms, mainly those to whom ALG provides Literacy Courses so they can learn to read and write to be able to follow up their children’s education.

ALG Literacy courses develop underprivileged communities, with no education, providing basic writing, reading and calculation concepts for community groups of c.50 people. ALG offers free access local courses and a morning snack, to youngsters and adults who dream about learning to read and write. Mainly from Bantu origin their speaking dialect is changana and they do not grasp the Portuguese language. The majority of students are young mothers who had to abandon their studies, while they were still little girls, to take care of their children or their siblings.

With £2’000 per year – c.£50 per beneficiary – ALG provides materials, trainers, meals and other costs to teach an adult to read and write for a year. Basic education of young adults increases their employability and self-esteem having a direct impact on their children’s education. Literate parents transfer the importance of education to their children. We want to reduce the adult illiteracy rate, the gender disparity in accessing education and to break the poverty cycle in these communities.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Sponsoring at our Sister Charity UPG

João Gabriel is 13 years old and lives with his grandparents and, like any other child of his age, he likes to laugh, to have fun and play football. He is with UPG since 2012, time at which he became part of Bungane Sponsorship Program. Last month he wrote a letter to his sponsors, sent to UPG by Arnaldo, a local UPG technician.

“Hello dear sponsor, I am healthy and supported by my family, I really enjoyed your letter and also the image of Our Lady Mary. I received a package with clothing (I can’t remember if it was in 2012 or in the beginning of 2013), and also a beautiful rosary with a small book which I use for catechism. The rosary I lost this year in a retreat where I had my profession of faith and now I only have the little book, thank you. This year I am taking my profession of faith, and I always pray for the aid you provide me, at school I’m still waiting for the final exams’ results, and I always work very hard but courses with exams are very hard. I wish your family all the best and Merry Christmas to you.”

UPG started the Sponsorships in 2004 with 50 children. 10 years later, the programme supports c. 900 children in Xai-Xai, Chongoene and Chokwé. Each child is allocated a sponsor and ensured school access and food (either at school or in the form of a food basket). In addition to material goods, Sponsorships provide underprivileged children with care and kindness from a series of very attentive sponsors.   The UPG Sponsorship establishes long-term relationships between children and sponsors of Portuguese language.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Carla Monine - ALG’s newest university scholarship

19 year old Carla Monine was one of UPG Portugal’s Sponsoring Programme first sponsored children in Xai-Xai and she’s ALG’s newest university scholarship holder. She’s attending the 1st year of the Food Engineering and Processing Degree at the Gaza Polytechnic Superior Institute, in Chokwé. Because she’s away from home ALG made an effort to guarantee proper accommodation facilities, and Carla is at the moment at the Boarding School for young girls in Chokwé, ran by the Vincentian Sisters. In parallel to her University Scholarship, Carla helps Sister Aida, our Local Partner in SVP, with After-School Support activities for the UPG Portugal sponsored children in SVP.

“Studying is my favourite thing and being a year out of school was really hard. I thought it might be the time to quit but I decided to believe in myself, and I’m still here today willing to do my best throughout my higher education. Being poor is not a choice but to fight poverty is, so I chose to study to eradicate my poverty conditions and have a better life. I was only 7 years old when I met ALG UK and UPG Portugal and I learned so much with them and with the Dominican Sisters, especial with Sister Isabel who has always been very demanding mainly studies wise.
My studies have always been looked after by ALG UK and UPG Portugal, even when I failed in 9th grade they never stopped supporting me in every step of the way. My heartfelt Khanimabo to ALG UK, UPG Portugal and to the Xai-Xai Dominican Sisters. I will be in Chokwé employing all my best efforts to succeed”.

ALG University Scholarships give dedicated but underprivileged students the opportunity to go through university education. ALG University Scholarship Holders are preferably students who previously benefited from the UPG Portugal Sponsoring Programme or local community youngsters involved with ALG as technicians, teachers or local volunteers, with proven merit and willingness to study. These youngsters are from Chongoene, Chokwé or Xai-Xai, to where they intend to return after their studies, with higher education and better skills to benefit the local community.

Between £830 and £1240 per year, depending on the degree and location, ALG scholarship finances the daily living expenditures guaranteeing mainly tuitions and enrolment with an occasional support for living costs such as accommodation and meals. In 2014 ALG supported 12 dedicated students committed in following their dreams in their Medicine, Law, Business Management and Administration, Physics and Accounting Teaching degrees. ALG University Scholarships make dreams come true and change lives forever.