It’s time to introduce you to Jowan, a four-year member of the Lisbon Project Family!
Jowan was born and raised in Syria. In 2013, he was forced to leave his homeland and made his way to Turkey, where he remained for the next three years as a result of the conflict. Following that, he continued his journey by residing in Greece for the subsequent two years before being relocated to Portugal as a beneficiary of the European Refugee Program.
After living in Lisbon for seven months, Jowan met Pedro, our CFO at an event happening at our partner organization- JRS. Pedro connected Jowan to the LP where he and his family of four began to meet our team and share their challenges with us. Through a blossoming friendship with our team, Jowan was able to have support in overcoming Portuguese bureaucracy as he wrote a new chapter in his life. The LP loves to work in collaboration with other organisations so that together we can create a bigger impact.
Soon Jowan began taking Portuguese language lessons at the LP. We believe that learning the local language is essential towards successful integration in the Portuguese society. Back then, classes were one-on-one, and for Jowan, they were really useful for increasing his employment prospects. Both Jowan and his wife, Gulistan, took advantage of other courses offered at the LP and their children were quickly integrated in all kinds of LP activities!
“It is great to feel like a part of a community that had people from all over the world, and, also, people from Syria. The fact that there were Arabic speakers at the LP definitely made integration easier!” says Jowan as he looks back.
Gulistan was successful in securing her first job in Portugal by virtue of a partnership that the LP maintained with Pingo Doce. She also loves to volunteer and soon started helping others at the LP with child care and translations! Gulistan now balances her involvement at the LP with working for an international company , while Jowan is home from his job as a tiler.
We all know it takes a village to raise a child! The LP has supported Jowan and Gulistan in their practical needs but we have also focused on supporting them in their journey as parents to two beautiful daughters aged 10 and 8. Their kids have been attending some workshops, joined picnics and kids club, which are run by various programs at the LP. Immersing kids in different activities enables them to develop various skills and interacting with other children with colorful cultural backgorunds is also a great social opportunity! Jowan and Gulistan’s children are so bright and we love having them around.
“Anyone feeling like they need some help and support on their arrival in Lisbon should definitely seek out the Lisbon Project!” Jowan proudly says. He adds that it´s great to know there are people who speak the same language as you, as well as knowing you are joining a caring community!
Stories like this one, motivate us to work harder to provide support to our community. It hasn’t been an easy journey for Jowan and his family. In fact, there have been some very difficult moments in their adaption to a new normal in Portugal. But through it all, we are so proud of their effort and so grateful they are a part of our LP family.
It’s been five eventful years since we first welcomed in refugees and migrants, and a lot has happened in that time. We are able to expand as an organisation and continue to make a difference in the lives of people because of the tremendous support we receive from our volunteers, partners, and sponsors. It is because of this unwavering support that we are able to empower, integrate and mobilise our community members!
If you would like to join us in changing other people’s lives for the better, all you have to do is click this link https://lisbonproject.org/get-involved/ and register for volunteer opportunities or sign up as a partner!