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Deolinda Bebiana de Almeida, a former United Nations Staff Member where she exercised high level positions such as Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System and Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Program(UNDP), on returning home Angola, in 2002 decided to launch and implement an experimental program for poverty reduction. While maintaining classic development theories, she chose in the implementation of the experience, to emphasize the concepts such as “ownership and empowerment”. She targeted a group which she considered to be the ”poor of the poorest”, living in the garbage and from the garbage in one of the biggest dumping area of the capital city of Angola, Luanda.
The first encounters were frightening and even threatening: the small working team were, in those first encounters, considered intruders, as so many others who had passed by them. The strategy was to patiently show that they were not like those many others. But, that they were simply citizens committed to work with them and for them.
Progressively the trust was won, many others chose to join Bebiana de Almeida, public and Private Institutions as well as Foreign and National NGOs.
Some additional characteristics of members of the Community are: orphans and abandoned children with a smile on their lips and the hope for a better life. Needy young people, but with plenty of energy and the strong will to overcome the adversities of life. Elderly abandoned people, still wishing for a better life. Single mothers determined to overcome the many difficulties of life inflicted to them.
Emotionally: most of them were regularly found drugged and intoxicated and considered persons of high risk. Others with mental disorders were also identified as dangerous.
Socially: they were completely abandoned by everyone. Most of them, have never had an identity card. They were citizens who knew little or nothing about acceptable norms and rules of citizenship in a society. Prevailed, among them, the law of the stronger in the jungle. Under the circumstances, they heartless violated, the most vulnerable in the area, such as children and the elderly. Some of them were physically handicapped and therefore, highly discriminated in that hostile environment.
Financially: they owned little or nothing. They lived from remaining foods thrown away from Luanda city’s major restaurants. From the little financial resources obtained by selling small objects found in the dumping grounds such as bottles, steel cans, remains of aluminum, bronze and iron steel, they bought all that they could buy in the near by street markets to complement their feeding needs.