Early on a bright Monday morning in downtown Nampula, Mozambique’s second largest city, 14-year-old Fillipe Ali Albino washes and guards cars on 25 September street. September 25th is a Mozambican holiday to remember the revolution that lead to the country’s freedom. He pours water into a bucket and signals to cars to take his parking so he can make some money, 5 cents for guarding and 50 cents for washing the car.
Johnwayne Kennedy has followed Fillipe’s routine for the past five years. “I work because I need to buy food for my sister and I to eat. If I don’t work we will go hungry. I only take Sundays off to go to church,” says Fillipe.
He had to start working on the streets after his father died. His mother remarried and her new husband
didn’t take kindly to Fillipe and his sister. Shunned and mistreated, the siblings found themselves under the
care of their uncle but on one condition – Fillipe must work to support himself and his sister. Fillipe accepted his fate and duly dropped out of school. “It is very tiring. I work from 6am to 6pm. I’m usually sad when I get home,” said the boy. “Every day before going home I stopped by the church to pray and ask for a better life because doing this is very hard,” Fillipe said, as the first signs of traffic appeared on the main road, signaling the start of his day. School drop-outs, both Fillipe and his sister dropped out of school because they couldn’t pay for their uniforms and books.
They are not alone. Across Mozambique tens of thousands of children face a similar fate – working instead of learning. Mozambique is home to one of the biggest school dropout rates in the world. More than half of primary school pupils do not complete school. Only 47 percent complete primary school, with UNESCO saying in 2012 that 1.2 million children drop out of school. More than half of the population – 54 percent – lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. Parents facing tough economic conditions will send their children out to
work rather than to school. The fact that most of the country’s population lives in the countryside
exacerbates this situation, as economic conditions are more strained in rural areas where it is difficult for parents to send their children to school.
Mozambique came out of a brutal 15-year civil war in 1992, which started only two years after the former Portuguese colony gained independence in 1975. The war left an estimated one million people dead and the education system on its knees and has since returned to arms as political parties fight for power. There is an African proverb that rings true to the Mozambique’s current situation “when two elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers”
We believe well nourished, well cared for, Healthy children are more likely to survive and develop into healthy and productive adults able to make a meaningful contribution to social, economic and Kingdom impact of their families, communities and nation.