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I dream of defending the rights of the poorest in my country

© UNICEF Mozambique/2011/MC Mukangendo

CHIBUTO DISTRICT, Mozambique, 10 July 2011 – Fourteen-year-old Helder Pecho Cossa loves going to school and learning; he loves drawing, singing and learning the English language; and he is passionate about information technology and computers. This is his story.

“I started school when I was five years old, but then I got very ill, and my dad took me for treatment in South Africa, the neighboring country, and I missed out on school for a while. Before I started school I would stay home with my parents. I have two sisters, one who is 18 and one who is 21. Both are already married. One of them now lives in Maputo with her husband. I’m the youngest one, and I live with my mother because my parents separated when I was little. My mother runs a small business.

She sells bed sheets for a living, of a nice quality that comes from Portugal and which she receives from a dealer in Maputo. If she is lucky, she sells one, and with what she earns on the sale, she is able to provide food and pay for all our expenses. My father is a carpenter working in South Africa, where he immigrated, and still pays for my studies. He has always supported my education. He has taught me all about drawing and designing, and I still use the techniques he taught me when I draw in my spare time.

Studying and learning are very important to me. By going to school I will be able to become someone that can help others, and one day I will be able to construct a nice house for my mother. The best thing about my school is my English teacher. Having lived in South Africa, I have more knowledge of English than the other children, and when my English teacher is giving a class, it is as if she is talking only to me, because I am the only one who understands her fully.
In school I have two best friends, Formoso and Osvaldo. We play football and do sports together. Sometimes they also visit me at my house.

© © UNICEF Mozambique/2011/MC Mukangendo
Helder during a recent training One Minite Junior Project, Mozambique, helping Anissa, one of the participants in the training to illustrate her dream.

What I do not like in my school is that we do not have access to information technology. We do not have computers like I have seen in some schools in South Africa. I have a passion for computers and information technology, and I recently finalized my first computer course, all paid by my mother. Other students would also like to learn how to use a computer, but we do not have computer facilities in my school. So, if your parents cannot pay for a private course, you cannot learn. And the worst thing in my school is when the teacher punishes us. I don’t like to be punished, especially not for being late to school. School starts at 6.30 am and that’s when we should all be in line and the national flag be raised, while we sing our national anthem. Last week I got punished when I arrived late for the singing, and as punishment I had to dig a big rubbish dump, and I didn’t like that.

When I finish school, I wish to go to university to study law. I dream of becoming the Minister of Justice one day. I would like to provide justice for the poor and make sure their rights are protected. Sometimes in the market, there are cases of robberies that remain unsolved because the police doesn’t do anything to catch the thieves. I would like to change the laws, so that those who commit a crime get punished. I’m also very concerned about the protection of children who live in the streets, work as farmers or are sent to South Africa to work in the mines instead of going to school. I would like to help them because they have the right to an education.”

For more information, please contact

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email:



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