Who mentioned emotions? (Part I)

Catarina Almeida

Our hearts are bursting! Now we’re beginning to realise how hard it is to put everything we experienced into words…

I don’t think anybody really slept well. We were all looking forward to arriving and finally seeing everything that had brought us to the other side of the world. My first words about today are: lots of smiles, heat, welcome and dedication.

Drawings on Child-Friendly Space wall. Photo André Martins.

As soon as we entered the Child-Friendly Space (CFS), they described to us what everyday life is like for those children who were left behind. Not because they didn’t have parents, but because their parents had gone in search of better living conditions and better opportunities. We were given a warm welcome! At the same time as they showed thanks for the work done outside of the CFS by all the organisations that support them, they also showed a lot of pride in what they do every day. And they have plenty of reasons to be proud…

Children playing. Photo by José Casimiro.

A look is worth more than a thousand words. Photo by José Casimiro.

Catarina helping with a bracelet. Photo by Sabrina Ponte.

We met children of different ages, the youngest being two years old. We saw a variety of activities that they do with the children and wanted to interact with them as soon as we had the chance. We helped them make small bracelets, which would later become presents for us. We had car races and we played as much as we could. We wanted to take part in all the activities at once and didn’t stop for a second. The sparkle in the eyes of everyone watching us will stay with us for all our lives. The hands that touched us to see if we were real, the questions that were so simple but meant so much to them, the curiosity plainly seen on every face. Children who wanted to play and who could play safely there… It was almost too much for our hearts to take. We took as many photos as we could. They sang to us and they moved us. We even tried to win a small competition we had with the girls from the centre, but they were much better than us, of course!

Girls playing. Photo by Catarina Amado.

Together is easier. Photo by André Miranda.

The first few minutes of this morning were worth every second of the journey. We are very grateful for our welcome and for being a part of these moments.

A great experience with the girls. Photo by Bai Kamara from UNICEF.

Having a great time together. Photo by Sabrina Ponte.

A sweet goodbye. Photo by Tiago Martins.

Catarina Almeida

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catarina Almeida

I am 29 years old and live in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. I am currently a Customer Support Centre team leader – IKEA Portugal. My hobby is travelling. I am married and we have a baby boy aged one year. I applied to the IWitness programme because I believe that every child has the right to have a home, food, health and love.

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