Meet Ricardo Maxaieie
As a child having grown up on the streets of Maputo, Ricardo Maxaieie is familiar with the difficulties that many of the orphan and abandoned children faced during the years of the war: sleeping outdoors and doing odd jobs to earn a few coins. Or, as in many cases, living from petty theft.
During 4 years, Ricardo earned his living by watching cars and carrying baskets at a local fair, the Feira Popular. Of this phase of his life he doesn’t want to talk much. What he does like to talk about is how he one day was contacted by the Children’s Town where he was invited to go and live, study and feed himself – and grow as a person. This was in 1989. Ricardo was one of the first 35 children who began their new life at the Children’s Town.
“I could not read a line before coming to the Children’s Town,” he recalls. “I left the Centre having concluded the 8th grade to study at another ADPP school, the Vocational College of Maputo. That is where I finally graduated with the 10th grade.”
Ricardo is a busy professional. From the early morning to the late afternoon he fixes cars, or, as he says – with undeniable pride – he is head of process at the garage. He is the person keeping a track record of the demands of the customers and the mechanical problems found in their cars. He is also responsible for the follow-up of the repairs from the beginning to the end.
Ricardo has been working in this garage since 2008. During his professional career, he has known various other trades and worked in many different roles, including as a plumber, a master-builder and a community health instructor. All of them, as he points out “have their origin at the Children’s Town and the ADPP Vocational School. It was there that, in addition to the school studies, we learned many practical skills that have helped us to integrate ourselves to the society in an active way.”
Ricardo returns regularly to the Children’s Town. “I often think that if it wasn’t for the Children’s Town, I might have become a great thief or even something worse. That's why I share my story with the children at the Children’s Town whenever I can and talk to them about the good things and the values I learned while I was a boarding student,” he says. Despite being very occupied with his demanding work and various family commitments – he now is a father of two sons of 13 and 6 years of age – Ricardo makes time to go visit the Center every 6 months to share his story.
If is there something that Richard has learned during his young life, it is the value of work. “What I would say to any young Mozambican, and not only – others as well – is very simple: do not be afraid of work. Do not be afraid to pick up a hoe. Learn a profession and you will be happy. That's what I did,” he says, with a decisive voice, recalling probably that he himself came close to losing himself to a childhood without a future.