Meet Rafael Chambal, a Children's Town student
A Life Under Construction
It was in January 2007 when Rafael Chambal, today 15 years of age, first laid his foot at the ADPP Children’s Town boarding school in Maputo. “I squeezed my uncles’ hand and started to cry because it all seemed so strange,” he now tells laughing, 7 years after the incident. Today, he is a proud 7th-grader and looking forward to his studies in secondary education.
“I immediately noticed the new boy,” explains Américo Nhalungo, Project Leader of the Children’s Town project. “He was so shy in the beginning that he didn’t speak to anyone and never participated in any extra-curricular activities. Today he is one the most active and participative children that I know.” The exuberant way in which Rafael speaks, even of the most difficult moments of his life, proves this to be true.
Born in Mauelele, a small village in the rural zone of Gaza Province, Rafael lived with his parents, three sisters and a grandmother for the first part of his life. His father worked in a brick factory and his mother took care of their machamba (farm). “Life was good until, one day, my father fell ill and died,” Rafael recounts. “My mother no longer had the money to sustain us so she sent us away, staying only with my youngest sister.”
Rafael was taken to Maputo by one of his uncles. Only a year after, the small boy was sent away again, this time to the Children’s Town. “My uncle stayed with all my documents so they at the boarding school had to register me again,” explains Rafael, clearly willing to quickly pass this part of the conversation.
What he most enjoys reminiscing about are the following seven years, filled with striving for good grades at school and making lots of new friends, including Jordão, Jacinto and Josias, his closest companions. During his years at the boarding school Rafael stood out in various ways, including for his skills in assisting in the kitchen. “I love making curry!” he exclaims with a smile in his bright eyes.
His main talent is in construction, however. “My dream is to study to be a building engineer,” he explains. “I have a lot of practice from the Children’s Town and I really like it. Since they started building the ring road here in front of the School I have been helping carrying sand in the wheelbarrows. I also gave a hand with the floor of one of our dorm’s new bathrooms,” he explains seemingly proud of the vocation he has discovered for himself.
In 2015, Rafael’s dream seems to be closer than ever. “I was accepted at the Polytechnic College of Maputo and will be starting my studies in Civil Construction!”