Birthday brainwave nets NECI cool €1,600

Birthday brainwave nets NECI cool €1,600

A birthday brainwave has brought smiles and much-needed cash to a charity for the mentally and physically challenged.

West Algarve resident Vikee Van Horn decided to use her birthday to raise funds for NECI – the 22-year-old initiative that cares for handicapped youngsters from Lagos, Vila do Bispo and Aljezur boroughs – not just because “it is doing a wonderful job” but because of the “incredible energy and sparkle” of its founder, former special needs teacher Eduarda Santos.

Vikee told the Algarve Resident that she is now hoping all her friends follow suit, organising other initiatives around all kinds of celebrations and anniversaries.

“We’ve agreed that whenever we can, we’ll stage one of these charity events,” she said. “It has just happened that I am the one to get the ball rolling.”

The ‘birthday dinner’, held at the Mirage Restaurant in Praia da Luz last Saturday, saw well over 80 guests pay €25 each for their meals and then spend €1,600 euros on raffle prizes.

The money will now go towards equipping the new NECI residential home, currently at the “finishing stages” before it opens early next year.

It’s a home that will finally fill a gap in services that Eduarda Sousa explains used to give her nightmares. The ‘gap’ was the question “who will look after my children when their parents no longer can?”

Many of NECI’s “children” are adults now. They have elderly parents who will not be able to offer them care at home for much longer. Thus the residential space will offer 12 permanent beds for NECI’s ‘older crowd’, as well as 12 further beds for holidaymakers or short-stay visitors who require specialist accommodation.

“People coming on holiday with a handicapped child before had nowhere that could offer them anything like this,” explained Eduarda.

But the project has been an uphill battle. The idea for the home goes back years, and bringing it to a reality has taken endless fundraising initiatives.

Thanking organisers “from the bottom of (her) heart” for this one, an emotional Eduarda Santos also revealed that “very soon” she will be retiring from her role as NECI’s charismatic leader. And as her colleagues admit, Eduarda’s dancing shoes will be “very hard to fill”.

For anyone wanting to know more about NECI and the exceptional work achieved there, contact 282 788 692 or email info@neci.pt

By NATASHA DONN news@algarveresident.com