In Psalms 68:6, David writes, "God places the lonely in families." That is and always will be the heart of our ministry here in Maputo, Mozambique. Masana exists to reach street boys and restore families. But after almost a decade of doing this ministry, we are seeing a shift in what "family" means for some of the street boys.
For the last few months, we have taken time to think and pray through the different aspects of our ministry and try to determine which areas God would have us focus on as we begin planning for next year. 2 of the 4 areas we feel God has highlighted involve "alternative families." For many of the boys that have been on the streets and a part of our ministry for years, the idea of going back to their families is not very realistic. They do not want to just be another mouth to feed for their already struggling families. And so the street life is more appealing. But we know that the street life is not what God wants for these boys. So how do we shift our vision to still focus on family but provide a better future for these older street boys? Catembe and Armadura.
Catembe is a town across the bay from Maputo City. Roberto and i bought land there a few years back in anticipation of the development that will occur in that area as the longest suspension bridge in Africa is completed to connect Maputo City and Catembe. When we bought the land, we built a one-bedroom house on the property and invited a couple of Masana boys to live there. At the time, we just needed someone on our land so that it didn't get re-sold to another person. But over the past couple of years, the Catembe house has become a permanent part of Masana. We've added on a second bedroom and currently have 4 boys living there. They are all boys that we had tried to reintegrate in the past with their families but they kept coming back to the streets. Now they are off the streets and learning to be a part of society again. It's not a traditional family. Its 4 young men living together and figuring out how to do life together. One has naturally taken on a leadership role. They all contrite to the house - cleaning, cooking, working in the garden. They are all enrolled in a local school and next year they will all participate in a vocational skills course. Our hope for these boys is that after 2 or 3 years of living in the Catembe house, they will have the knowledge of a skill that could provide them with an income....a way to contribute to their families if they choose to return home or the means to make money and rent a house if they choose to go that route.
Armadura is our gym that was opened in 2013. Since then, we have close to 10 Masana boys that we have chosen to be a part of the 2 year Armadura Internship. These boys are given a job at the gym, enrolled in a local school, and provided with a place to live in the Armadura house so that they no longer call the streets home. They receive a weekly allowance and are being taught to save money for their futures. One of the gym managers meets with them regularly to make sure they are doing well in their transition off the streets and into society. Some of these boys have gone on to receive full time contracts at the gym while others have left them gym and moved on to other things. For more details on what is happening with the Armadura Boys, check out the gym website
Catembe and Armadura. Neither are what you'd call the "traditional family" but both are being used by God to place the lonely in families. Pray for these 2 groups of young men as they strive for better lives.