In Cape Verde, children and adolescents are absolute priority during the COVID-19 pandemic

More than a year since the the COVID-19 crisis, the pandemic continues to have a strong impact on the safety and well-being of children

Natacha Magalhaes
A young boy washing his hands at a handwashing station with a UNICEF logo
UNICEF 2021/Magalhaes
17 June 2021

More than a year since the the COVID-19 crisis, the pandemic continues to have a strong impact on the safety and well-being of children, especially those whose families have lost their income or parents have become unemployed, with many of them left the places where they lived to return to the country's capital searching new opportunities.

With UNICEF's support, the Black Panthers Community Association ensures that dozens of children and their families - around 192 households - heavily affected by the pandemic, see their diet healthy and strengthened and have guaranteed access to education.

Francisca Gomes is 64 years old´s grandma. In Várzea, one of the peripheral neighborhoods of Cabo Verde´s Capital, Praia, she is known as Mamá (the Portuguese word to mummy). In fact, she is the mum (and dad) of a dozen of grandchildren, five of them beneficiaries of the Black Panthers Community Association´s programmes, which has intervened for over three decades in that neighborhood with numerous social weaknesses and where several children are in a vulnerable situation.

A grandmother facing the camera as she holds her sleeping grandchild in her arms
UNICEF 2021/Magalhaes

"I don't know what it would be like without the president and the support of Black Panthers and partners"

Francisca Gomes

Mamá receives a basic food basket that allows her to prepare the food that she distributes to her grandsons and the rest of the family members. Her five grandchildren, aged between 10 and 16, receive a school kit that allows them to attend school. Without this support, “it would be very complicated”, she says, visibly emotive. The affection and admiration she has for the president of Black Panthers, Alcides Amarante, is also notorious.

“I don't know what it would be like without the president and the support of Black Panthers and partners. I don't have my own house to live. Before, I had a tent, but the rain took everything away, I was left with nothing. Now, I live off the rent that the City Council paid. I sold fruit on the streets, bananas and papaya, but it is very difficult. It's not worth it. This support benefits me and my family in every way”.

Institutions as Black Panthers provide conditions for children not to remain in a situation of social vulnerability. At its headquarters, the Association welcomes around 64 children of pre-school age in its kindergarten, the Mini Black, and there, the kids carry out playful educational activities, good manners and have two meals.

UNICEF is one of the partners that offers the Black Panthers Association resources, co-financing the Black Panthers’ covid19 response plan, provides opportunities for children to have education and balanced nutrition, as well as moments of leisure. On the other hand, coronavirus prevention is not neglected. At the kindergarten´s entrance there is a hand washing device. Also, the group is divided and everyone does not attend the space on the same days, to avoid crowding.

And so, thanks to this work, Mamá and dozens of grandmothers, mothers and families are more relaxed; dozens of children are prevented from being left on the streets while their parents go to work or look for a job. And it ensures that children grow up healthy and safe and have the opportunity to be…children.