A Christmas Message

CASLAS Children’s Home: A Safe Haven in the Heart of Lagos

Christmas is around the corner. While the festive season can be one of joy and cheer, let’s not forget about how we can help others. I chose to do this interview with one of the residents of CASLAS children’s home in Lagos to put myself in another’s shoes and spread awareness about what conditions can be like growing up in residential care. This interview is one I’ll hold dear and I hope that you can take something from it and remember that this holiday is best celebrated with something shared!

In Portugal, children are put in children’s homes by the courts for one of the following reasons: neglect, a parent’s illness, physical or emotional abuse, abandonment or parental incarceration. The young man I interviewed, who for legal reasons must remain anonymous, had an infectious smile that lit up the room as he settled into a greyish, padded chair in Susana Pales’ (head psychologist) office. The collar of his trendy shirt was slightly askew, but he was polite, brown-eyed and well-spoken despite our language barrier.

Originally from Guinea, he arrived in Portugal five years ago and was put into care in CALSAS three years ago when he was 16. He attended school in Lagos and says he made “great friends”. He is now 20 years old and attending Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo de Portimão, where he is studying for a level five degree. This qualification is the next level of education after mandatory school, almost like an apprenticeship. He earns his own money as a bartender in his spare time.

Like many young boys, he dreamt of being a footballer and is a supporter of Real Madrid and his favourite player is Jude Bellingham. He still plays football recreationally with friends and for Bensafrim. He has also played for Immortal in Albufeira and likes to follow Sporting Lisbon in the Portuguese league.

However, even more important than football for him is being able to maintain his religious and cultural heritage, and he goes to the mosque to pray. “I am very religious. I follow Islam. I have been Muslim my whole life. I pray five times a day. On Fridays, there is a big prayer for one hour. Prayer brings comfort to me. There is a mosque in Lagos, recently built.”

I asked him about his aspirations in life? “To have a great personality,” he replies. His ambition, now he has given up on being a professional footballer, is to have a stable job. “I have many job offers in Lagos at the moment. I have been in various jobs in this area, in hotels and restaurants, including the Tivoli in Lagos. I was in school for one week and the teacher offered me a job! Last weekend, I worked catering for a wedding and this weekend, I had to say ‘no’ because I had so much to do.” 

I wonder what his view is on residential care in Portugal, “It is very good. In CASLAS I like the people. This is like my mother’s house because people here respect my religion. It is very important to me because a lot of people don’t. I eat different food and celebrate Ramadan, so I feel like I am taken care of and that my needs are accommodated.”

He recognises the amazing generosity of the home’s benefactors and the hard work of the staff – he says the only other thing he would like to receive is some English lessons! So I asked him if he could change anything in the world, what would it be? “The war in Palestine. The first thing I would change is that people would change themselves internally and stop war. People need to be united to change the world and not just centred on their individual needs or themselves. I have come to realise that it starts in the individual.”

This inspiring young man cites work, belief, perseverance and patience as his key values, with which he hopes to succeed. Home is where the heart is, and CASLAS is what gives this saying a bounding pulse. 

If you wish other young people to have a similarly nurturing experience at CASLAS, they need help in the following ways in 2023/24:

Wish list:

  • Gift cards for clothes stores 
  • A computer for the study room
  • Contribution to medical appointments
  • Lazer activities during weekends and school holidays
  • Sports clothing
  • Chairs and food warmer for dining room,
  • Dining room and kitchen renovation,
  • PlayStation for girls’ room
  • Cost of two driving licences


Currently, CASLAS is in need of a new dining room. It is outdated, with paint peeling from corner to corner and does not feel homely at all. If you wish to donate, you can do so by bank transfer and send proof of debit to:


PT50 0007 0358 0000 2000 0099 3

Christmas dinner is one these children deserve, like any of us, to cherish. Please head to gogetfunding.com/help-give-the-children-at-caslas-the-christmas-they-deserve

Volunteers role:

Take action! Volunteering involves offering your free time and knowledge to help youngsters with small tasks, assisted by residential care professionals. Volunteers have developed an important role in residents’ lives, becoming references and role models, offering their free time and contributing to children’s development, turning the residential period into a happier one. It’s the small things that mean the most. Picnics and meals, tours, tutoring, cinema trips, minigolf, swimming pools/beach, teaching life skills (cooking sessions, shopping) and any extracurricular activities will enrich the youngster’s lives and also bring you joy. 

If you would like aunty more information or would like to help, please contact



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