I’m sat outside a small coffee shop in Sao Vicente, across the table from me sits a women who is filled with the perfect combination of love, determination, sadness and hope. She has been telling me her story for an hour now, and I’m literally engrossed by it. Straight away tell her I want to help, in any way I can, Why? Because when I look at Silvia there’s nothing but sincerity, she believes in a better life for the thousands of street dogs and cats on this island and this hope that follows her is contagious.
Silvia is the president for the Cape Verde NGO SI MA BO. SI MA BO in creole means ”just like you”, they are a non profit shelter and clinic for the cats and dogs on the island of Sao Vicente. The organisation offers everything from an affordable vet clinic to the local people, an incredible spay and neuter program, an adoption/rehoming program and shelter to street dogs and cats who have been injured, hurt and are not fit to return to the streets.

You know those moments when you feel like you are trapped in a corner, where there are literally no options that are easy or avaliable? I’ve only known Silvia for 2 months. I’ve stood and listened and watched her face in many of these moments, and everytime she stands unbroken to the problems this african island throws at her to do her job. I would have broke many times in these situations. One evening I went to Silvia to help her with a few things. When I arrived she was nursing a cat that was very very sick. This was the first moment I saw Silvia let down her defences. The compassion, warmth and love she gave that cat in her arms as it passed away was nothing short of beautiful, yet heartbreaking. I could feel it so I know the cat could too: The cat was safe and loved and it died in a moment when it was not afraid. That moment of compassion was as real as it comes.

As I write this there are thousands of dogs and cats that survived another day on the street, hunting for scraps, walking the alleys at night where humans are in smaller numbers, sleeping in pits riddled with fleas, lice and ticks, anywhere that can bring quiet and safety for small periods of time. Instead of buying people unneeded gifts, I ask you to donate to SI MA BO, to these beautiful animals that need you more than ever. These animals that want nothing more than a few minutes of your time and love. Anyone who spends time around dogs knows that they can tell you their life through their eyes. Here most are filled with sadness- the most unimaginable sadness. Everyday you want them to know you’re different, you want them to know they can trust you, but with many too much has happened to convince them otherwise.

Last week I saw a kitten lying on the side of the road, he had been tortured and had its eyes pulled out. The week before a little kitten shaking in the middle of the highway as no cars stopped to move it. Last week people were throwing dogs off piers like frisbees. The same week a guy kicking a dog in the ribs as he passed it, and only yesterday a puppy quivering and whining in pain on the side of the road. There were at least 20 people in the area and I don’t know how many had passed before this; luckily I had somewhere like SI MA BO to take him. However, we can’t paint everybody with the same brush. Luckily there are also many residents of Sao Vicente who really look out for these animals.

There is a story that sums SI MA BO’s approach: Silvia was once showing us around a potential future animal clinic. Someone asked her ”have you checked with the neighbours if they won’t mind the noise?” Silvia’s reply: “If I worried about what other people thought about these animals they would have nothing’., SI MA BO is their only hope and as a grassroot organisation they are doing everything right and I wouldn’t have enough breath to thank them for everything they do for these animals.

Silvia is never interested in talking about herself. After a few words she reverts back to the dogs and cats, but I chose to write about her because she represents the change that is possible on this island. Without SI MA BO the suffering, the pain, the relationship between humans and street animals would be much worse. Step by step she is changing hearts and minds, peoples attitudes towards dogs and cats. Slowly she is making steps towards humans and dogs living on this island together – without the abuse, the pain and the fear. Once again it takes the efforts of a few incredible people to achieve this. The governments answer towards this problem is to round these animals up and kill them, which isn’t unusual around the world. But obviously unacceptable. SI MA BO is the other side of the coin! Right now when its tossed it lands on both sides – with your help we can make sure it lands on SI MA BO everytime!

SI MA BO is defeating statistics….. You can be part of that!!! The new year is crucial for SI MA BO – with EU funding coming to an end, They need all the help they can get. We could write about these stories of sadness all day but these are yesterdays stories. We need to move forward. I ask you deep down, please give what you can! Every dog and cat on the island would thank you!


Baghera_ante silvia

6 ways to help us

Make a donation
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Sponsor one of our animals
Choose a dog and help give them a safe place in our animal sanctuary.
In Cape Verde we are always looking for full-time or part-time volunteers
Adopt a pet
For each animal adopted abroad there are hundreds who remain in Sao Vicente struggling every day for food and water.
Come to Cape Verde with us!
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via Alessandria 26
15013 Borgoratto (AL)

SIMABO Cabo Verde
Rua Angola, 14
Mindelo – Sao Vicente

(+238) 9 937347
(+238) 2 312465
(+238) 2 315834