The Somos Esperança Associação de Solidariedade Charity was born out of the Covid pandemic, founded by Kevin Gould and Patrícia Marisa Neto Guerreiro. It is a great example of ex-pats working unbureaucratically with the local community in Olhao to help the less fortunate.
For some years previously, Dona Patricia had been heroically running a private support network for local people and families in need, from the front room of her family home.
Kevin runs a small restaurant in Olhão called Chá Chá Chá; when the pandemic hit many local casually employed fishermen could no longer afford to feed their families, so Chá Chá Chá started offering around 35 free lunches a day for those in need.
Patricia and Kevin joined forces, initially using Kevin’s small lock-up from where they started a food box scheme that provided for all a family’s food needs for the week. They received donations of food, clothes and furniture from kind members of the local community and from Chá Chá Chá’s suppliers. Any shortfall was made up by Kevin.
Patricia was (and remains!) insistent that the Charity’s clients be treated with dignity first and foremost; many clients are working people fallen on hard times, often through no fault of their own, whilst the mental or physical health of other clients renders them unfit for work or unsuited to social society.
The organisation soon outgrew those premises and in July 2021 rented privately the run-down house at Rua Almirante Reis 145, near the railway line in Olhão. The Charity was formally incorporated on July 16 2021.
Today, the Charity has around 40 registered clients.
A freshly made, nutritious lunch is offered 6 days a week. With a food box offered for the Sundays that we are closed.
The house features a clothes ‘shop’ with separate departments for women, children and men. Donated clothes are washed, mended and pressed. They are free to take, but donations in return of, say, a half dozen eggs or a morning’s help in the kitchen, are encouraged.
There is also a furniture ‘shop’ to help those clients recently relocated to set up a new home.
The charity provides wheelchairs and crutches, plus adult diapers and simple medicaments for those in need. Patricia helps clients get registered at the Centro de Saúde, and takes them along for their consultations.
Our homeless clients each have a basket with their own toiletries. They come to shower and shave and leave with clean clothes, a fully tummy, and their heads held higher. We have a fortnightly visit from a hairdresser.
The kitchen relies on volunteers to make thee daily lunches. There are a few kind-hearted expats who volunteer (and polish up their Portuguese language skills in the process), as well as various clients and local community members. We always need more volunteers.
The Charity receives no state of municipal help (though not for want of asking…).
It is funded by donations of money, mostly from clients of Chá Chá Chá, donations of goods from the local Portuguese and expat community, and donations of food from the local community and Chá Chá Chá’s suppliers.
This year however, the Charity’s costs have increased greatly.
The landlord has just raised our rent by 50%; the cost of living crisis means that donations are down, and all costs are up.
We are negotiating to rent disused premises three doors down from us to refurbish as a larger furniture ‘store’. The new premises will also offer emergency (max 3 nights) housing for those families or individuals who find themselves temporarily homeless.
Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/f/fundraiser-loveforallolhao