Street children in Mindelo and Praia, Cape Verde

From 2007 to 2010 I carried out research on urban poverty, children and youth in the two major urban areas of Cape Verde (Mindelo and Praia). Street-children and younger inmates in the local penitentiaries were my main focus. As in my previous research project, I kept a strong commitment in acknowledging children and youth’s autonomy in decision-making, resilience and tactical agency, but without overlooking the all-too-real constrains and difficulties they might happen to live in. During this research I also focussed on the interface between street children and the institutions and NGOs designed to help them, on national child protection policies, and broadly on the ‘help’ or ‘social sector’ in Cape Verde. In the street (participant photographic project)
Helton and I took these pictures in Mindelo (island of São Vicente, Cape Verde) in the summer of 2007. Helton was 16 at the time and had been living on the street for most of the time since he was 10. These photographs, where his gaze and mine overlap, are emblematic of an approach to street-engaged youth which acknowledges their critical and dire conditions and social and economic constraints but refuses to victimise them. Rather, it takes seriously their motives and recognize their agency, autonomy and will for independence.