Say hello to Clelia, a valued member of the Lisbon Project family!
Born in Angola, Clelia lived in Portugal between the ages of 5 and 13, developing a love for photography which was inspired by her father. Clelia says these years in Portugal also cultivated an open mind and a can-do attitude that she took back with her when her family returned to Luanda.
In 2016, Clelia became pregnant with her daughter, Keyana, and, thinking about her and her daughter’s future, started studying shop management. This course led her into the hospitality trade, where she helped turn around 5 struggling businesses.
However, at this point, Keyana was very sick with a chronic tonsil condition, worsened by the dust and bacteria found in Luanda’s air. Wanting the best for her daughter, Clelia decided to return to Portugal where she felt conditions would be better.
Clelia has worked since she was 16, and this determination helped her get together the necessary funds to support her visa application. On the 27th of December, 2019 she arrived with Keyana back in Lisbon.
It was a big shock, admits Clelia. Not having stability with a young, sick daughter, caused a great deal of stress. This was not helped when she had to enrol Keyana in an expensive colegio as she didn’t have the necessary paperwork to enrol in a state school.
One day, feeling overwhelmed, she passed in front of the Lisbon Project. Approaching a volunteer at the entrance, she immediately felt welcome. After enrolling in the programme, Clelia felt an almost immediate sense of relief because of the support and help provided by the community.
Life became easier after the Lisbon Project contacted the ministry of education meaning Keyana could enrol in a local state school.
But this was only the start of Clelia’s relationship with the LP! She had also returned to Lisbon with her own ambitions of using her skills to develop her own business ideas, which, until this point hadn’t been possible. Enrolling on a Lisbon Project course in employment & business skills allowed her to update her skills in the areas of online business and digital tools. She became an active member of the group, motivating other students through her creativity and experience.
Doing this course opened doors for Clelia, as it taught key-skills of being able to set up a business with little funding, but the right skills. She says this is a real inspiration for people wanting to do the same thing here in Lisbon!
After taking part in one of the Lisbon Project cultural evenings by cooking Angolan food such as delicious Mufete (grilled fish, with beans), she put forward a proposal to give cooking classes. The Lisbon project funded a course at the School of Tourism & Hotelry, where Clelia and other members of the LP learnt how to teach cooking, enabling them to take their ideas forward.
She is now applying for a scholarship offered by the Lisbon Project to study catering, one more exciting step on her journey.
Even though Clelia says setting up her own business is a huge task, the support she feels from the Lisbon project makes everything seem achievable. She says the belief the organisation has showed in her and her ideas is inspiring, and leads her to inspire and help others, now volunteering at events such as the Better Together Ladies workshop.
Taking part in events such as ping pong competitions, pancake Fridays, and music workshops for her daughter, helped her overcome her initial shyness at social events when she arrived in Lisbon. And, she adds finally, her English has come on in leaps and bounds as it is the community language! Clelia says the Lisbon project is an essential part of her life here in Lisbon, and she couldn’t imagine not being part of it!