Laura Macedo and Maria Helena Pereira said they went on Wednesday to an area on the outskirts of Luanda, accompanying a young Angolan, Hélder Silva, who is allegedly involved in an attempt to fraud, through an evangelical church in Olhão (Portugal).
This is a collection of donations for about 200 abandoned children with health problems, who would be in a shed on the outskirts of Luanda and whose exact location the alleged benefactors refused to provide to the television station SIC, which broadcast a report on the matter.
Laura Macedo and Maria Helena Pereira, who accompanied the young man, realised along the way that "the children had been momentarily taken from their families' homes and placed in a place so that they could make the video" and found that "there was no shed or warehouse where the 200 children would be".
After the video was made, "the children went back to their families where they lived, and there were no orphans in the process," they stressed.
In this raid, however, they managed to rescue, with the support of the National Institute of Medical Emergencies of Angola (INEMA), four of the children who appeared in the report and who needed urgent medical care.
"These four children were referred to the paediatric hospital by INEMA's ambulances about our follow-up together with the National Public Health Directorate, INEMA's Provincial Directorate, and David Bernardino Paediatric Hospital".
The children met their families in Cassaca 2 and Zango 3.
"We can say that four of the children are being observed in the hospitals mentioned above under the supervision of the health authorities and accompanied by immediate family members," the activists detailed in a press release.
Questioned by Lusa, Laura Macedo, considered that this was "an attempt at fraud carried out in Portugal", as no request for help or appeal was made to the Angolan authorities.
"The children are Angolan, we are Angolan, but the appeal made by Mr. Hélder is for the Portuguese, the fraud comes from Portugal, allegedly from a lady named Fátima who, according to Hélder Silva, coordinated this entire operation," said Laura Macedo.
"Our perception is that there was a manipulation" in the sense of "setting up this staging", added Helena Pereira.
In the press release, Laura Macedo and Maria Helena Pereira criticized the "counter-information conveyed by various media organizations and social networks.
The "fuss" around the case led to the "loss of trail" of the Angolan involved, making it impossible to locate and possibly rescue other children who might exist for medical monitoring, the activists said.
"Mr. Hélder told us that there are not 200 children. Since I know that there was no shed with the crowded children, my concern was not where Mr. Hélder filmed them, but to try to pick up the children, since we even had the support of the Health Ministry and take the children to the hospital," said Laura Macedo.
As for the families, they are "very vulnerable", according to Maria Helena Pereira, who said that the children would not be "dying of hunger, but they have vitamin deficiencies" and low weight, as well as health problems, and there is even a child who doesn't walk.
"They are families that don't have a job, they live in cardboard houses," she described.
Laura Macedo also said that since the beginning of the pandemic, 8000 families with food baskets, many of them affected by the closing of markets during the state of emergency, have been supporting, with the collaboration of the office of the Minister of State for Social Affairs, Carolina Cerqueira.
She also said she sees more people "going to the dumpster".
Maria Helena Pereira added that in addition to street children, she also began to be approached by adults in search of food.
"There is definitely more hunger in our city of Luanda, greater need. People stopped going to sell at the market, there were redundancies, companies closed down. There are no companies that can go three and four months without production and people go to the streets. This is the kind of people I have seen outside the supermarket," he said.