Salesians Open Emergency Centre in Angola to Protect Street Children from COVID-19

Some residents of Luanda queue at the Emergency Centre for Street Children .

In an effort to shield street children in Angola from COVID-19, the International Volunteering for Development (VIS), the Non-Governmental Organization of the Religious Institute of Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), has opened a new emergency center in the Southern African nation’s capital, Luanda.

The center was developed with funds redirected from the European Union-funded "Vamos Juntos," a project for reintegrating street children back into their families. 

“They've (EU and other benefactors) opened a new emergency center where the street children can be offered to live this period in a community and in an organized way, far from the dangers of the ever more present street life,” Agenzia Info Salesiana has quoted VIS Country Representative in Angola, Sergio Pitocco as saying.

The Angola-based official added, “These kids, in these days of social deconstruction, are more than ever exposed to the risks of the street, to diseases, to the possible contagion of COVID-19, to the lack of sources of subsistence and to the violence of adults and often, unfortunately, also of law enforcement.”

According to the Country Representative, at least 50 children and adolescents among them 9 girls and one baby girl have responded positively to the initiative. 


The baby girl is being housed in the Maria Mazzarello house of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (Salesian Sisters of St. Don Bosco), and the rest in “Refugio House” of the Salesian Center “São Domingos Savio” in Luanda.

Among the services the boys and girls receive in the two centers include protection, nutrition, and hygiene products.

They also receive the attention of many social educators and volunteers who dedicate themselves to them by helping them “to organize their daily lives, to learn and to respect the rules of hygiene and prevention, and to make them responsible.”

On March 24, the government of Angola declared a state of emergency effective March 27, to curb the spread of COVID-19. Since then, the deadline of the emergency has been extended twice, with the recent extension going up to May 10.

The oil-producing country has recorded at least 35 COVID-19 cases, 11 recoveries, and two deaths.

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“We're trying to ensure that this emergency can be transformed into an opportunity to carry out more accurate work of accompaniment and empowerment for children and adolescents in street situations, and looking to the future, preparing the way for their returning within their families,” Mr. Pitocco has said.

Through Salesian Missions, the US-development arm of SDB, members of the 161-year-old Italian founded Catholic Religious Institute run various initiatives to help street families across the globe. In Africa, such initiatives have been implemented in Angola, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.