In just six hours, a group of 70 young students from the Imperial College Business School in London brought a long-desired project to life at Horta da Areia.
New life has been breathed into the Horta da Areia Community Centre in Faro thanks to the hard work of 70 students from the Imperial College Business School in London.
Equipped only with wood, tools and the desire to do something outside of their comfort zone, the students got to work on a sunny Thursday afternoon on May 25 to build a stage, sports field and leisure area at the community centre.
The project had been in the works for around a year, involving local businesses, partners and non-profit organisations, and aimed to help the students with their team building whilst also contributing to the fight against “stigma and discrimination,” said David Fernandes, technical director of the Horta da Areia Community Centre.
As he told Barlavento newspaper, the community centre is located near the Ria Formosa in an area where people take walks and cyclists soak in the “magnificent view”. However, they are often disconnected from the local community.
“Our idea is to try to bring people together and create conditions for interaction through sports, for example. We intend to develop sports projects here,” Fernandes explained, with the idea being to invite the people of Faro to participate.
The students who helped the construction efforts were brought over by British organisation Splash Community Projects, founded in 2000 and which acts as a bridge between companies or schools and social solidarity institutions (charities).
“We carry out between 50 and 60 projects per year, all over the world,” said coordinator Phillip Weeks, adding that they can last “from four hours to 14 months.”
“Due to the networking that we had already established in Portugal, we decided to return. Last year, we were in Olhão. On the other hand, we always try to identify the most urgent projects, where the greatest needs are, or where we can make the biggest impact,” he said.
In fact, Fernandes heard about the Splash project through the Association of Underprivileged Children of the Algarve (ACCA).
“They told us about Phillip Weeks, who needed the help of a mediator to find other institutions that could be the subject of an academic study. I talked to him, understood the idea behind Splash’s work, and directed him accordingly. Our contact continued until one day he asked me if I knew any organisation that needed help to develop a project. I replied that we had some ideas that had been on hold for a long time and that their work would be very welcome here,” Fernandes said.
With the leisure area, “the idea is for people to enjoy this space, both visitors and the local community,” while the stage will be used for cultural events.
Original article written by Bruno Filipe Pires for Barlavento newspaper.