06 julho 2020

O testemunho da Ksenia No. 3 ((Associação Spin)

Pois, chegaram ao fim estes 9 meses, e parece que era o tempo mais tranquilo e despreocupado da minha vida. Mas tudo tem o seu tempo, e agora é a hora para eu fazer mudanças e trazer mais estabilidade e mais equilíbrio à minha vida.'

Não quero dizer adeus a nenhumas pessoas que se tornaram próximas a mim durante essa jornada. Espero mesmo que dê para ter novos encontros com elas no próximo futuro. 

E, com certeza, não digo adeus a Portugal, o país que não deixa de me encantar, pasmar e admirar. Vou sentir saudades e vou lembrar-me sempre destes detalhes, que em conjunto representam a minha experiência:
  As janelas e varandas com roupas coloridas penduradas em cordas;
O cheiro a bacalhau (amigo fiel) nos supermercados;
Os cães que correm felizes ao longo da costa;
A água geladinha do Atlântico;
  As pessoas desconhecidas que te cumprimentam quando passas por diante delas (fora de Lisboa);
Os motoristas de táxi que cantam ou assobiam umas melodias alegres;
As ruas estreitinhas, tão acolhedores e cheias de vida;
Os gatos que olham para ti das janelas;
O vento salgado do oceano e esse sabor do sal nos lábios;
O playlist da Padaria Portuguesa;
Cafés cheios, pingados, meias de leite e abatanados;
Os hikes com as minhas companheiras simpáticas ou sozinha;
Neblinas misteriosas;
Jacarandás em flor, que fizeram as ruas ainda mais esplêndidas.
E assim por diante... Enfim, valeu a pena! Obrigada por tudo :)

20 junho 2020

O testemunho do Kerim No. 1 (Associação Spin)

Hello, My name is Kerim from Turkey. It has been 3 months since I started volunteering in Spin Association. Although the quarentina had been started because of COVID-19 after arriving Lisbon, I was lucky that Spin Association and other volunteers welcomed me sincerely. They were quite friendly and that helped me a lot to get used to of my new life in Lisbon. I am satisfied about my experience since the beginning even though I was working from home. Everyone in the association is doing his/her best in order to contribute to the community.

Besides, I have started to learn Portuguese thanks to our teacher Aurelie who is another ESC volunteer in Spin association. As a fresh graduated electrical engineer, I am improving myself in various fields by volunteering in Lisbon.

Long story short, I am quite happy about the decision that I made by coming to Lisbon. I am excited for the next months and always feeling motivated to do my best.

16 junho 2020

O testemunho da Polina No. 1 (SPEAK)

Hi! My name is Polina, and I am volunteering with SPEAK in Lisbon. I came to Portugal on the 1st of March and two weeks later we were told to stay home because of COVID-19. Luckily, I went to see my hosting organization during those two weeks so I got to know SPEAK people a little and could start working from home.

SPEAK helps migrant adapt in a new country through language learning and communication. It is an amazing goal and I am happy to become part of this important job. First weeks were difficult because I had to start working immediately and help SPEAK move language groups online. I worked with a team to create new guides and materials, then translated them into French. It was challenging but not impossible. 

I also met my flatmates and other volunteers in Lisbon. I really like spending time with them and discover new places of this beautiful city. 

04 junho 2020

O testemunho da Marta No. 2 (SPEA)

The time passed pretty fast the next months. I kept hanging out with my friends visiting villages around Lisbon and going for hikes, like Sesimbra, Setúbal, Cascais, ... The day of the Carnival we were in Sesimbra, enjoying the parades and the different costumes that the people were wearing. We had many rainy days, but fortunately for us, just during the week, the weekends were full of sun, laughs, beers and friends.

I went back to Alicante for Christmas and it felt good to see again all my family. I came back for New Year’s Eve with a friend from my childhood and I showed her around (Lisbon, Belem and Sintra). We enjoyed the party, fireworks by the river, the delicious Pastéis de Belém and the amazing palaces in Sintra.

After that I came back to work as usual going again to fieldwork in the International Park of Douro river. It was as amazing as the first time, we even made a new fluffy friend. Unfortunately, because of the sun, the wind and walking so many hours, I got sick, so I had to stay home for a couple of weeks to recover!

I went with SPEA to Campo Maior, almost in the border with Spain, for the arrival of cranes in their migratory rout. But first, we stop in one of the schools to do an activity with the children. We made them feel how is a day for a biologist at work, so they went birdwatching with us and some binoculars. It was a magical moment seeing the cranes flying in the sky with those beautiful sunsets. A trip to remember.

New volunteers came and we all started to get along very well, until… the Covid-19 came…

28 maio 2020

O testemunho da Ana No. 2 (SPEM Sociedade Portuguesa de Esclerose Múltipla)

This experience is just getting better as time goes by. I feel very integrated in my organisation and I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to get to know better the people I work with. I am getting to know more about their lifes, the challenges they have everyday and their strength to face them. And besides that we are sharing fun and unforgettable moments. I have also started doing some workshops in portuguese, which seemed impossible when I started!

About Lisbon… it's amazing the experiences this city has to offer! I have been in theatres, escape rooms, so many gigs and art exhibitions!

And as the weather is getting better we have also been able to discover breathtaking places in nature! And what I value the most... is the people I am sharing this experience with! I am really looking foward to have more adventures together!

27 maio 2020

O testemunho da Karolina no. 1 (SPEA)

Until recently, I spent whole days in the snowy Czech mountains teaching kids skiing and snowboarding, and now, a few days later, I'm sitting on a beach wearing shorts, digging with my fork into pasta in a plastic box and watching the calm sea level. Tânia is resting next to me, with backpacks full of maps, GPS and all the equipment needed to complete today's tasks scattered around. Both of us have binoculars at hand, always ready to bring us closer to some interesting events from the bird world.

I arrived in Portugal at the end of February as a volunteer for the European Solidarity Corps. Here I joined a new start-up project of the Portuguese Ornithological Society called LIFE Ilhas Barreira, which aims to protect the island ecosystem in the Ria Formosa Natural Park in southern Portugal. The project focuses on the conservation of three target species - the little tern, the Balearic shearwater and the Audouin's gull. The latter has just flown over our heads screaming his head off which is so characteristic for this particular species.

The lunch break has flown by fast. I try to chase away the thoughts of having a small coffee and a traditional Portuguese pasty treat - pastel de nata – as a dessert. I am hoping that walking around the island, the fresh sea breeze and work will soon wake me up from the "after-lunch sleepy mood". Our task today, and for the coming days, is to map the vegetation on the island. We are orienting ourselves with the help of a GPS and a map which has specific points drawn on it. Expanding a square of 2x2 metres at each stand with the help of bulky plant guide, we are trying to identify everything which grows inside of the square, even the plants in its strangest stage of development.

Working in the field feeds my soul after a week of sitting behind a computer. Although the work of conservationists may seem full of adventure and days spent outside getting fresh air, it is one of the more enjoyable sides of this job for which we look forward to. Everything we collect in the field must also be processed on a computer. For example, previous days were spent sorting photos from camera traps, together with other volunteers Rita and Tânia. Sometimes it is a task that takes only a few hours. Sometimes bush dances in the wind standing in front of the camera, triggering a camera trap at the slightest movement. Likewise, if seagull colonies like to move around the area right in front of the camera trap station, there may be thousands of them to sort instead of a few dozen pictures. And then your eyes and ass hurt a lot from working on the computer.

While working in the sun, the time flies completely differently. We have completed mapping of the last site around 4 afternoon and are slowly moving to a concrete pier. We stop at a wooden cottage. There is a wooden table in the middle of the porch with utensils left untidily around after the lunch feast, and a hammock between two columns which is swaying in the wind. The place looks completely deserted despite numerous signs suggesting one's recent presence. Tânia peers inside the cabin through the widely opened door and soon she manages to lure an older man out of the inside of the wooden building. Sleepily, he sits down at a table on the sun-drenched terrace and begins a friendly conversation in Portuguese with Tânia. I have not bad an eyelid, but my brain has been trying hard to try and understand at least some snippets of their conversation. The feeling of joy due to a promising understanding of parts of their discussion is promptly swept away by another rush of inexplicable phrases. I keep reassuring myself by knowing I would have plenty of time to learn the language - I have yet 10 months ahead of me! After the conversation which has exhausted me more than the two of them together, we say goodbye to Senhor and his picturesque home. The rest of our group and a small motorboat are already waiting at the pier. Usually, there is a large cruise ship which sails to the island and back. However, because of the coronavirus measures, its operation has been interrupted, and a small boat trip back to the island is only available for island workers and our ornithological crew. The cruise to Faro takes about 10 minutes, after which we walk through the streets, which are less and less crowded every day,  and we disappear into a small house spending the rest of the day there.

Today, two months later, I am back home in the Czech Republic. A few days after having that nice lunch on the beach, I got on a plane and flew out of sunny Portugal. Due to the growing pressure connected with the coronavirus situation, I have decided to return home at the last minute, and spend a strange period of uncertainty at home.

Spring is in full swing. The last remainder of snow retains only on the highest mountain peaks. Brooks are teeming with salamanders, there are jays arguing high in the treetops, and deers are running away as they notice my presence. Instead of Audouin's gull with a red beak, I am looking for a woodpecker with a red cap. It's hard to believe that until recently I was sitting in shorts on the beach watching the sea level.

All organizations involved - SPEA, SPIN, Plan B and both National Agencies - accepted my decision to end volunteering with understanding. I would like to thank them all very much for this, and for everything else they have done. At the same time, I would like to wish all the best to everyone who has decided in a similar way or, on the contrary, those who have stayed working on their projects.

It was an enriching experience in ways I could hardly expect despite being funnily short in comparison to what my original plans were.

29 abril 2020

O testemunho da Viviana No. 2 ( AAMA Associação Actividade Motora Adaptada)

Decidi de contar a minha experiência lisboeta em versos. “Chutar palavras” nao é o meu forte, mas Lisboa me inspirou, desde o primeiro instante,  a ir além da imagem que tenho de mim mesma. Até agora foi o maior aprendizagem que esta cidade e esta experiência me deixaram: qualquer pessoa quero ser, posso sê-la. Então este é o meu fado 
dedicado a Lisboa 😊

O meu fado 

Da minha janela
Cada vez ao pôr-do-sol
Eu me apaixono
As cores...laranja, violeta, vermelha e amarela
E cada vez
Eu me apaixono

Fecho os olhos,
E o peito se enche dos sons da cidade
Os cantos dos pássaros aí,
As músicas que vêm de longe lá,
O vento que mexe as árvores, 

O verão está chegando,

E cada vez
Eu me apaixono

A luz do dia
que aquece a minha pele
e deixa as minhas faces rosadas
Me deixa também uma imensa vontade de viver
E cada vez
Eu me apaixono

Metáfora de vida
com as tuas subidas e descidas,
com o Tejo sempre pronto
a confortar
e os miradouros
onde tudo para trás é possível deixar

Tu és amiga fiel e irmã adorada...Lisboa

E cada vez

Eu me apaixono.

20 abril 2020

O testemunho do Özcan No. 2 (SPEAK)

As humans we always tend to exaggerate our emotional relation to our past. Whether they are sweet memories or sour memories we always acknowledge them more intensely than they actually were. For a beautiful sunny sunday that we remember,the sky is usually bluer and a rainy sky could’ve been recalled as darker in our memoirs. Obviously, that’s one of the strongest traits of our kind that drives our creativity process. But if this is left unchecked and unrecognized it can drain our relation to our present which will naturally prevent us from noticing small important details as every moment is beautiful as it is.

Since my ESC has started, I’ve been putting myself into many challenging situations both in my project and social life to see what kind of reactions will spruce up inside of me. This method of trial and error works for me as long as the way I reflect on my actions allows me to implement new ways of dealing with black spots. 

Whatever you’re doing it’s of crucial importance that you shouldn’t have fear or self doubt but just try so that you can understand how your surroundings and of course your inner peace responds to it. You really don’t need to search for challenges since fate, whether it’s governed by randomness or a divine power, will throw you in them without asking your opinion. The best you can do is to accept the circumstances and create opportunities out of it both for yourself and for other people.

 My journey still goes on despite all the unexpected changes as fate likes it. I can tell this is becoming an interesting and a complete life changing experience as a whole. I’m looking for small details that can help me change my perspective and make the most of it so that I can contribute to my creative process. Happy to be here and witnessing.

O testemunho da Camilla No. 2 (Crescer na Maior)

The past year is gone and we have already been getting into the new year of 2020. I look at the past year at Espaço Âncora with lot of gratitude and warmth. I felt warmly welcomed not just from the colleagues but also overall from the beneficiaries side. Our Christmas celebration was especially one of the last years highlights.
The month of January was a time of getting more familiar with the people that come to Espaço. I did share many interesting conversations especially with the people that more frequently visits the place. The hardships of living on the streets, finding a decent work and an apartment where common topics not just at Espaço but also in the portugues media during the beginning of the year. 
During the month of February, we did start on the request of the beneficiaries the weekly meetings. These meetings have many functions. One of them is to pass information from Espaços side but also more importantly to function as a platform for the beneficiaries to discuss for them important topics, share information and life events. Quite often did I find myself also in the middle of a discussion on politics. I have to say that these meetings where never boring in any way.
We did also start together during the time of February with the beneficiaries the planning of short- and long-term activities at Espaço. 

Planning of activities at Espaço

February was also an interesting month in other ways. We did have loads of visitors from abroad wanting to get more familiar with the goals, methods and overall philosophy of Espaço Âncora. Activism and art-based practices stood up as the central pillars of the work at Espaço in these encounters.
One of our more furry visitor was this lovely Mr. doggy that once in a while together with his owner did step bay. 

Mr. doggy paying us a visit.
February was of course nothing without the yearly celebration of Carnival. We did throw a party as the beneficiaries planned it. There was some sweets, arts and crafts and a good feeling in the air on The day.   

Artist in work during Carnival.

Quite soon after the Carnival fever did cool down did we enter in to another unknown time – the pandemic. The doors of Espaço Âncora have been closed for a time while I am writing this testimony. Me as other volunteers are at the moment at home trying in this way contribute to the work of other professionals that are combating covid-19 in the frontlines. Lisbon has during this time shown itself from a distance – a distance that is for many as myself a privilege that many people cannot afford to take.  

Lisbon from a distance. 

O testemunho da Valentina No. 2 (Viver Telheiras)

During the month of February I kept a journal of everything I did. Consulting it before writing this second testimony, I realise I have been having a very active life here in Lisbon. It is very hard to believe that I'm getting close to the middle mark of my ESC journey. The beginning of this year has been, unsurprisingly, filled with yet more novelty and various challenges, and somewhere along the line I realised I feel at home here, in my not so new life. 

The environment and the issues I was facing made me develop new priorities about what's to come as well as new daily habits. I now cook in olive oil, willingly buy peanut butter and broccoli, have stopped enjoying abatanados (previously my regular coffee order in Romania) and have a delegated, favourite spot at the 

I continue to enjoy my work, and the diverse situations I find myself part of. Some of the tasks I am in charge of include posting on our instagram accounts (I definitely recommend following @vivertelheiras & @festivaldetelheiras to keeping up with our latest activities and ideas), working with children in vegetable gardens, helping out during quiz nights at the community centre, doing administrative work, participating in multiple working groups and organising various events (including recently a week dedicated to women's role in society, with performances, film screenings and discussions, organised in collaboration with other NGOs). We've also built shelves for our upcoming neighbourhood resource sharing centre and sawn pillowcases for the children's reading group in the residents' association.

Outside of my work, I participated in debates, group talks, civic manifestations and meetings with other NGOs. I also joined a roller derby team (surprisingly, it is something I enjoy and can become good at), went on hikes, visited galleries and museums, and traveled alone and with friends. While I wasn't able to continue doing this during the isolation period, I have been exploring other resources in order to add depth to my Portuguese culture and language knowledge: I have been watching historical fiction series, listened to podcasts about social memory and politics, read books written by Portuguese, Angolan and Mozambican authors and watched the ongoing debates in the Brazilian and Portuguese legislative bodies. 

The quarantine period took some adjusting to and some days are still challenging; however, it also allowed for time to reflect about the fortunate position we're in to have economic, housing and employment safety, observe the situation unfold from a warm place, and think about what a desirable new normal could look like.