Charitable foreigners

By DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

With the current global economic crisis, it is easy to worry about what little we have as individuals and forget about those who have considerably less within our community.

The Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Albufeira charity works to help some of the most disadvantaged members of the community but requires constant donations from the public to be able to continue their essential work.

The charity, based in Albufeira, was founded in 1499 by Queen Leonor of Portugal and its work stretches across all age groups, disabilities and requirements, with homes for those with HIV, the elderly, victims of domestic abuse, children’s homes and residential care for those with mental and physical handicaps.

Director of Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Albufeira, Helena Serra, has worked for the charity for 32 years: “People only look to us when they need us but the people here need help all the time and unfortunately it is only very rarely that Portuguese people help us. We rely mainly on the charity of the foreign community,” she said.

A common misconception about the charity is that they do not need much help in the form of donations because they receive the money from the Portuguese national lottery, Jogos Santa Casa. “Money

Permanent residents at the Lar São Vicente for the mentally and physically challenged.
Permanent residents at the Lar São Vicente for the mentally and physically challenged.

from the Santa Casa lottery does not come to us; it only goes to the Lisbon Santa Casa da Misericórdia. We do not receive a cent from it but, because of this, people think we are a rich charity,” said Helena Serra.

One of the facilities that needs constant help from donations is the Lar São Vicente, a home for 39 mentally and physically disabled permanent residents.

Linda Mühleisen, a volunteer fundraiser for the home, said that the next project they are trying to raise funds for is the building of a physiotherapy room.

“This year we were able to raise enough money to be able to hire a physiotherapist but she has nowhere to treat the patients so our next aim is a physiotherapy room.”

Paula Mira, who works at the home, said: “The new physiotherapist is great. However, for some of the residents this has come too late and nothing can be done to help them. We often think how things could have been different if we had more help from the start.”

The home itself has seen many modifications over the years with funds from the International School São Lourenço leading to a solar panel and a specially equipped bathroom while materials such as tiles and kitchen equipment were donated by individuals and used to help modernise the former hotel but there are always basics that are needed on a daily basis.

“Single sheets, pillow cases and towels are what we need most here every day,” said Paula Mira. “We use a huge amount of these and it is very costly to buy more each day. Blankets are also in constant demand as it has been so cold recently, as well as larger items such as sofas and general equipment.”

If you would like to help at any of the facilities run by the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Albufeira, please call 289 515 427 or visit the offices at Cerro da Alagoa (Apartado 2117).

Alternatively, if you have any unwanted items you would like to donate to the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Albufeira, please take them into the Algarve Resident offices in Lagoa at Rua Visconde de Lagoa.