What has followed has been truly remarkable! Joana Gama was joined by her friend Sarah Moura and together these inspiring two leaders pioneered ‘Growing with Friends’. Volunteers have stepped forward, schools have seen the need, and funding has been provided by Portuguese Hope Givers – generous ordinary people giving small amounts monthly to enable children to be helped. After an initial pilot phase, growing with friends has become an independent not-for-profit Association partnering with local churches who provide volunteers who are then hosted by schools. We’ve had the immense privilege of seeing a number of children struggling in school, supported to express their emotions and talk about their difficulties. We’ve seen children facing difficulties such as bereavement, illness, poverty and change at home, supported to a place of being able to settle to learn and engage in school again.
TLG UK have provided training, shared resources and the support systems to enable volunteers to be with children each week. The Crescer com Amigos not-for-profit Association has a big vision for struggling children all across Portugal. Under the leadership of Marisa Bossa as Executive Director, the small team, which continues to include the original pioneers Joana and Sarah, is pressing ahead to make new connections with churches, schools, volunteers and donors who have a heart to bring help to children who struggle in Portugal. With the impact of Covid-19 on mental health and emotional wellbeing for children, the support of Growing with Friends is for such a time as this in the lives of children in the UK and across Portugal.