Because every child deserves to be loved

By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

Celebrities took to the greens at Pestana Vila Sol near Vilamoura on June 18 to play in a charity golf tournament that raised €73,000 on the day for the Refúgio Aboim Ascensão children’s home in Faro.

In an exclusive interview with the Algarve Resident, the director of the home, Dr Luís Villas Boas, spoke about the close links between the children’s home and the British community and the continuing need to provide a place where children can feel safe and be loved.

Such a large donation to the Refúgio from the Sir Bobby Robson Celebrity Golf Classic demonstrates the continuous support of the charity by foreign benefactors.

Luis Villas Boas said: “I am so proud to have the support of the event with the Refúgio receiving around €77,000 in total and this takes the total given to the home from this event up to nearly €500,000 since it first began in 2004. However, for Lady Elsie Robson and her family, it has always been more than just giving us a cheque.”

Around the time of the golf tournament, Lady Elsie and her sons visit the home to see the children currently there and to understand what the money donated is used for.

“It is so important for people to come to us and to see for themselves the work that we do here,” said Luis Villas Boas.

“Once you have held one of the children in your arms then you can feel the love that they need and can really understand the work of the Refúgio.”

Currently, the Refúgio has more than 85 children staying at the home and has a maximum capacity of 90 children plus five extra emergency case spaces.

The home employs more than 90 members of staff to attend to all the needs of the children; everything from cooking their meals, to coordinating play and providing psychotherapy.

“We are a large family here and money that is given to us, such as from the charity golf event, goes towards keeping the home running and for paying for maintenance such as new solar panels. The home has an immense expenditure and in the summertime we try to provide pools and other experiences that children not in the home would have,” said Luis Villas Boas.

“More than 50% of our funding comes from charitable donations and helps to support all the children at the home. We have babies as young as three days old here, with some being literally the children of children, with mothers as young as nine years old, and they all need to be cared for and loved.”

The Refúgio homes abandoned, maltreated and neglected children under the age of six and the average stay of 80% of the children in the home is between 12 and 16 months as the Refúgio endeavours to return the children to their biological family or to arrange for adoptions as soon as possible.

“Over the past 25 years, nearly 600 children have been adopted through the Refúgio, more than anywhere else in Portugal. We do not want children to be stuck in an institution for years; instead we want them in homes and with families where they can grow up and be loved”, said Luis Villas Boas.

“It is impossible to explain with words alone the importance of the home for these children but once you have held one in your arms then you truly understand.

For further information about the Refúgio Aboim Ascensão, please call 289 822 039, email [email protected] or visit www.refugio.pt.