The mood was joyful, but the message sobering, as the kids at the Tete Center for Vulnerable Children & Adults welcomed Cross Catholic with music, dancing and drama.
The topic: child trafficking.
This wasn’t the “don’t talk to strangers” lecture that we got when we were kids. In Mozambique, the threat to children is far more imminent. The AIDS pandemic, combined with extreme poverty and a lack of opportunities, has made the country an easy target for criminals who profit from the exploitation of children. Lured by promises of education and employment, young boys and girls are separated from their families (if they even have families to be separated from) and sold into an underground market of forced labor and sex slavery.
The Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood know the dangers, and that’s why they educate the children at the Tete Center on how to protect themselves. The sisters provide a safe haven where these disadvantaged boys and girls can eat a nutritious meal, take a much-needed bath (because safe water is in short supply), receive education assistance, and just enjoy their childhood.
During our visit, the personal bond between the children and the staff was clearly visible. It was also encouraging to hear the testimony of a local woman who told us she has seen improvements in her grandchildren’s behavior, school attendance, and physical strength since they began spending time at the Center.
The Missionary Sisters have very limited resources, but we are giving them the support they need to keep their ministry going. I’m so thankful for our donors whose compassion has made such a difference for the children at the Tete Center.