Lar Kuzola Orphanage is a Blessing for Luanda's Street Children

by Savitha C Muppala on  January 29, 2010 at 7:04 PM Lifestyle News
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Luanda's Lar Kuzola orphanage is a blessing for street children.

Rua Joao Paulo II is an unexpected place to find a haven for Luanda's street children, the mentally ill, the physically handicapped, and those who have been brought here by police after turning to minor crime to survive.
 Lar Kuzola Orphanage is a Blessing for Luanda's Street Children
Lar Kuzola Orphanage is a Blessing for Luanda's Street Children

The orphanage was established in 1979, initially to cope with children whose parents had been taken by the civil war that wiped out half a million Angolan citizens.

Lar Kuzola, Portuguese for 'a place of love', is run by Sister Anna Maria, and funded jointly by French petrol giant Total and the Angolan government.

Over 300 children call this place home.

They are everywhere - running, playing, fighting, playing tag, sitting on the dirt, lounging on white plastic chairs, clambering up walls, showing off their classrooms and their spartan bunk-bed dormitories.

On Wednesday they had a visitor, they probably had no idea who he was, but they welcomed him with a hand-painted sign which they held up proudly as he walked and chatted amongst them - 'Welcome John Barnes' it read.

The former Liverpool and England football international was mobbed by boys and girls alike, his natural easygoing charm producing toothy grins from the lucky ones to be given a place at the centre.

After conducting a football coaching session on a small sandy pitch outside the low-rise, white-walled classrooms and dormitories Barnes, in Angola to promote England's 2018 World Cup bid, told AFP: "I've been to orphanages around the world in Iraq, Jordan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan.

"I've also been to private schools in England, and the children are all the same, even though their experiences are different.

"Yes you can say they are deprived and they are orphans but a kid's smile doesn't change.

"It doesn't matter whether your David Beckham's son or a kid here at this orphanage the enjoyment they get from playing football and running around is the same the world over.

"Playing football with these youngsters was a tremendous experience as they are so clearly in love with the game. It was also a reminder that football can have a powerful and positive impact on young people."

Sister Anna Maria took over the running of Lar Kuzola six months ago after a spell in Mozambique.

She said: "We get children from the police, from families who can't look after them, and those with mental problems from hospitals.

"We get funds from Total (25,000 US dollars a month) and the national state.

"We have three doctors, so they are well looked after.

"The children stay with us until they are 16, and then get transferred to educational centres for schooling."

Anita is 10 years old - a pretty, shy girl, she seems happy with her surroundings. She came top of her class in her latest exams.

"I came here two years ago, my uncle brought me," she says shyly through a translator. "I've made lots of friends. When I grow up I want to be a teacher."

Source: AFP

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where is this orphanage, i would like to volunteer.

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