Life stories

Ribeiro family - Gondar, Amarante (ongoing)

Mrs. Esmeralda is 38 years old, has two children, Simão is 15 years old and Diogo is 10 years old. Mrs. Esmeralda got the divorce after a very painful process for the whole family, since she was a victim of domestic violence and her children saw that for years. For security reasons, Mrs. Esmeralda and her children were taken to a shelter that offers temporary shelter, since they couldn´t stay at home.

Mrs. Esmeralda works part time at a restaurant, however, given the current situation and all the restrictions that the sector has been subject to, due to COVID-19, it has not been easy.

The ex-husband works in the construction sector in Spain and the pension he pays to his children is very small.

The Ribeiro Family lives in an apartment whose rent is 275 €, which is very difficult to pay regarding the incomes. Mrs. Esmeralda inherited a house from her father which, although it needs renovations, will allow them to have a better quality of life and free up some money for other needs.

Mrs. Esmeralda is very committed to this project because she believes that this will change their lives and have a second chance to be happy.

Oliveira Family - Prado, Vila Verde (2021)

This family is composed by four members: Mr. Manuel, 60 years old, his wife Maria, 57 years old, their son Emanuel, 27 years old and their daughter Marilúcia, 21 years old.
This case arrived to HFH Portugal through referral by IRIS (Private Social Solidarity Institution), an institution that works with Emanuel, Mr. Manuel's son who has a disability and inability to perform activities of daily living. Emanuel is dependent on others and this makes his father, Mr. Manuel and his mother Maria, have to spend a lot of time taking care of him.
This process started in 2014 with the support of the IRIS Social Worker, but did not proceed because the family had no property registration, as this is one of the requirements for those who apply to receive help from HFH Portugal. The family also made a request to get help from Municipality of Vila Verde to repair the roof because it didn’t protect from rain.
At this moment, only Mrs. Maria and Marilúcia are employed (Maria part-time), Mr. Manuel is unemployed and helps, together with Maria, taking care of his son.
After long years of waiting for the property registration to be resolved, the house is in a worse state than it already was! As water leaks through the damaged roof (it is at risk of collapse), humidity and other conditions in the house have only worsened! This family is living in a very precarious situation. It is urgent to help the Oliveira family to have a decent home with conditions for the whole family.

Oliveira Family - Sanche, Amarante (2020)

This family consists of Mr. Abílio, D. Maria Alice and their daughter Lara.
Mr. Abílio suffers from dementia and, consequently, progressive physical disability. With no living conditions for a person with this type of disability, the family has a room, adjacent to the double room, which it intends to be transformed into an adapted bathroom. In addition to this division, which will have to be built from scratch, the couple asked for help to requalify the room.

Silveira Lopes Family - Telões, Amarante (2020)

Mrs Olívia is 52 years old, married, mother of 2 and grandmother of 4. She has a big heart and about 3 years ago she welcomed in her house 3 of her grandchildren.

Her life is not easy. Raising 3 children with an Social Insertion Income of 500€ is a challenge to say the least. If it wasn’t for her mother in law help there would be some really dark months.

Her economical situation got worse when she was forced to pay a 200€ monthly debt, for 8 years. It started in June of 2016. She became her daughter guarantor in the purchase of a car. Her daughter stopped paying and handed the car back thinking the matter would be solved. Mrs Olívia only realized the seriousness of the matter when the house was seized. To avoid loosing the house she had to make a deal with the company and the minimum they would accept was of 200€ monthly. She tell us, with tears in her eyes, that everytime she has to do that payment she spends the rest of the day crying. That same daughter was the one that left her kids behind that she now fosters. She doesn’t have money to help with the payment of the debt or to help with the kids.

The kids got taken away from Mrs Olívia’s daughter by Children Protection and got put in the system. The grandmother fearing the worse, fosters the kids. The kids, Tatiana’s 13 years old; Gonçalo’s 10 years old and Joana’s 5 years old. She receives tje Social Insertion Income and family allowance from Social Security. A part of the family allowance goes to pay the psychologist and speech therapist that two of the children go to.

Mrs Olívia’s husband was in jail and did a sentence of 5 years and a half in Vila Real. Cars painter lost his job and now suffers from depression. In one of his episodes he set fire to the house and got arrested. He got out recently and came back home. Mr Agostinho will never be able to work full time again. His medication leaves him dull, although he was been stepping up and doing whatever works appears his way.

Mrs Olivia has kids: the mother of her 3 grandchildren that she fosters (just to point out that said daughter was a mother again, but has kept the kid) and a 20 years old son. He lives next door with his grandmother. The lack of space forces him to do so. He just started to work so he’s still not stable enough to help a lot.

Mrs Olívia receives her mother in law help, every month she gives her 60€ and nevertheless there’s months that she’s left without any money for something sudden.
The house has a lot of problems, apart from the obvious lack of space. The house is always cold, so the kids are all the time sick. There’s also lack of privacy, because majority of the rooms don’t have doors. Mrs Olívia needs help to help improve the house conditions, making it a safe and healthy place for her grandchildren to grown up.

Pinheiro Family - Lage, Vila Verde (2020)

This family is composed by three members: Mrs. Rosa, 50 years old, her husband António Lopes Cunha, 57 years old, their daughter and 22-year-old Maria Isabel.

Unfortunately, this family presents a situation of serious health fragility, as Mr. Antonio suffers from Parkinson’s. Until 20th June 2019, Mrs. Rosa was the primary carer of her mother, totally dependent, suffering from Alzheimer´s, and her husband, retired due to invalidity, has been losing faculties progressively. The only help Mrs. Rosa has is provided by her daughter Isabel who works full time and has an income lower than the national minimum wage.

Regarding the housing situation we will be renovating a one story house, which has serious deficiencies in terms of solidity, health and safety.

The house has only two bedrooms, a bathroom outside and kitchen. The rooms are small, have no ventilation and their layout does not safeguard the privacy of the residents.

The roof of the house presents imminent danger of collapsing and there are serious problems of humidity and infiltrations.

Freixo Family – São Simão, Amarante (2020)

The family Freixo, lives in Gouveia – São Simão, county of Amarante. A couple, Mr. Aníbal is 45 years old and Mrs. Cândida is 39 years old, and their 4 kids, João’s 20 years old, Sara’s 17 years old, Paula’s 15 years old and Tiago’s 13 years old.

Mr. Aníbal in his life did a little of everything, we worked in construction, was a night guard, at the moment he’s doing some stuff in the Parish Council and that gives him some income, Mrs. Cândida is a housewife, the couple receives the Social Insertion Income as well as the family allowance. All the kids go to school, all of them showing a lot of learning difficulties, all being without exception special educations students. It should be noted that Sara, the eldest daughter, suffers from a severe developmental delay associated with ritualized movements/stereotypies and attends the Special Education Unit.

The house is unfinished, the first floor has severe humidity problems, as well as space management, only existing a bathroom for 6 people, the kids share 2 rooms, one of them without any solar exposure or window.

the case had been initially rejected by the Family Commission, because the house was not in the family’s name, that changed in the meantime, through the help from Mr. Aníbal’s brothers who made the shares and surveyed the house with the finances.

Silva Family, Oriz Santa Marinha, Vila Verde (2019)

When this family requested Habitat for Humanity Portugal`s help, the number of family members was 3, Mrs. Laurinda, Mr. Jose and their son, Fernando. Unfortunately, 3 years ago Mr. José passed away suddenly, so the number of family members is now only 2 people.

D. Laurinda is 62 years old and her son Fernando is 42 years old. Both have low literacy.

D. Laurinda is unemployed and Fernando has physical disability and urinary incontinence since he was born.

The income of this household is about 250.00EUR. However, Laurinda has two children, one living in Braga and the other is an emigrant in Switzerland, who help as much as possible and have made themselves available to pay the monthly fee agreed with Habitat for Humanity Portugal.

The family lived in a house for 32 years, in the beginning only temporally, with no living conditions, in a state of severe degradation and with serious problems. The ceiling and degraded window frames allow the entrance of cold and the infiltration of water, causing humidity. They are now living in a borrowed house for 9 years close to the house we will be building.

Habitat for Humanity Portugal intervention will be done in a house that belongs to them, which partially collapsed.

Mrs. Laurinda will work side by side with international and national volunteers as she is unemployed, and she is very excited about this. She is a hard worker and cannot wait to move to her house.

Family Pinto Ribeiro - Vila Caiz, Amarante (2019)

The family is made up of Mrs. Laura and her daughter Ana. Mrs. Laura is a single mother. Before Ana turned one year old, the couple separated, and a short time later Ana's father died. She was 2 years old.

The house that we are working on belonged to the father's family, for the worst reasons the same was inherited by Ana, since she is the only living person on this side of the family, after the death of an Uncle and Grandmother who lived in the house.

Laura is unemployed for a long time, at the moment she receives the RSI, while Ana attends the 10th grade of a professional course.

With the help of Habitat, mother and daughter will not have to share bedroom and bed, as well as having access to a warm house and indoor bathroom as well as sanitation that functions properly.

Family Alves - Lage, Vila Verde (2019)

Family Alves is Mr Joaquim of 47 years old, his wife Dona Rosa Maria with 47 years old and their daughter Andreia, 18 years old.

Life was good, they were happy and started to build the house of their dreams. Mr Joaquim worked in Spain in construction and his wife in a textile factory.

Unfortunately, while emigrated, Mr Joaquim got sick, a disease affected his kidneys and he had to stop working. They went through a long and hard process of treatments (hemodialysis) and the family budget dropped drastically forcing them to stop the work on their house.
The house that they always dreamed of seemed to have been forgotten.

When they saw Habitat for Humanity Portugal rebuilding a house next to theirs they came to us and asked for help. The time to dream again had returned.

Fortunately, in 2016, Mr. Joaquim found a matching donor and was able to make a liver transplant. He is feeling well but he will never be able to work like he used to. To help on the family finances he raises animals to sell or to feed his family.

Currently they live on the house basement of Mr Joaquim’s sister.  It’s a basement without the minimal conditions and very humid.

With the help of everyone we can give back hope to family Alves and together build their dream house.

Alves family - The new project in Jazente (Amarante)

The Alves family is formed by Alice, 73 years old and her sun João (31). Alice has one more daughter, but she works as a truck driver and only comes home on the weekends.

The house where Alice and her sun live belongs to the family for many years since it was owned by the family of Alice husband, that unfortunately already passed away.

João did a training as a professional cook but he is currently out of job and the only income from this family is the retirement pension from Alice. The daughter, Antónia, also helps occasionally.

Alice is a person really cherished in all community and she is known for her huge generosity and for always have a smile on her face, even if she has a very difficult life.

The house of the Alves family suffers from several problems, from the leaking roof, the almost non-existent insulation, the bad shape of the plumbing and the bad condition of the electrical part.

This family knew about Habitat for Humanity Portugal through a neighbour, for Alice this is an absolute blessing, since she loves this house and to see it fixed means the world to her.

With the help of all and in partnership with the Alves family, Habitat for Humanity Portugal will be turn this dream into reality.

Augusto Family - Várzea, Amarante (2018)

Mr. Rodrigo is 63 years old and retired due to illness. Living with Mr. Rodrigo is his 39-year-old daughter Angela and his 6-year-old grandson Gabriel.
This case was signaled by the parish council when Mr. Rodrigo's son was bedridden due to cancer of the intestine. It was Angela who took care of her brother and who eventually died in 2016.

The space where the family lives has two divisions whose access is made separately. There is no connection between the two divisions. Mr. Rodrigo sleeps in one of the bedrooms where there are two beds, and Angela and her son in the other room. Both divisions are cold and have traces of moisture. It has no roof. The only source of heating is a small stove that is in the room where Mr. Rodrigo sleeps. The kitchen is in an attached extension. It´s made in block and still unfinished. It is very cold and the electrical installation is not very safe.

The proposal is to create a space that allows sheltering the family with dignity and security. Each person will have their own room one of them with space so that the child can study. An open space will be created which will house a kitchen and living room, and a bathroom will be installed.

The main income of the family is the retirement of Mr. Rodrigo. Angela does not have full-time work. At the time of her brother's illness she was the one who took care of him. With the death of her brother Angela went into depression, and after that she was diagnosed with nodules in one of her breasts and is now undergoing treatment in the Hospital of Penafiel. Her son Gabriel, now aged 6, receives only the family allowance. It is a child who often gets sick having to resort to antibiotics often.

After overcoming the problems with the City Hall that prevented the start of the construction, Habitat for Humanity, with your support, will finally be able to guarantee this family a decent, safe and affordable home to live in.

One more family in Amarante finished to pay their mortgage

After living more than 30 years in a house that belonged to the parents of Maria, the Capelas family call on Habitat for Humanity Portugal help to improve their living conditions, since for those 30 years they were not able to do any maintenance work on their house.

In a first stage, in 2011, Habitat for Humanity Portugal helped in the replacement of the roof and windows.

But we didn’t give our mission by complete, in 2012, and with the help of the Manuel António da Mota Foundation, Habitat for Humanity Portugal worked in solving the remaining problems of the house. This way, the Capelas family now has a decent and safe place to live.

The day where a family pays the total amount of the mortgage is always a special one. It is the end of a cycle, the bounds created with the family will remain for ever, not only the ones with Habitat for Humanity Portugal but also with all the ones who have contributed to make sure one more family has a decent place to live.

American Internacional School of The Hague in Portugal

For the first time, the Habitat for Humanity Portugal affiliate is hosting a team from the Netherlands.

A group of 14 volunteers, between teachers and students, from the American School of The Hague came to Portugal in order to help on the reconstruction of the house for the Lage family, in S. João de Rei – Póvoa de Lanhoso.

This team is formed by teachers and students from different nationalities and have arrived on the 26th of February, having their departure planned for the 4th of March.

The connection between this school and Habitat for Humanity comes from 2008, where a group of 10 students decided to start a clube in order to help the Habitat for Humanity New Orleans affiliate.
After one year, they were already more than 20 in the club, and, in 2010, they travelled to New Orleans where they worked on a local project.

This year they have chosen Habitat for Humanity Portugal as their destination, which make us very happy, since it is one more partnership it is created.

This team is already working on the site, where they will perform several tasks, like: removal of existing walls, putting cement on walls, filling the pillars and several other tasks.
We hope this will be the beginning of a new and long partnership between the American School of The Hague and Habitat for Humanity Portugal.


For more than 30 years, Mrs Maria Cristina has lived in Chorente, in a house that lacks the minimum living conditions.

In this house, she raised two children that emigrated to France looking for a better life, and to find a way to improve their mother’s housing conditions.

After struggling for many years, Mrs Maria found Habitat Portugal and, after a long process, we were finally able to create the conditions to pursue the project.

Mrs Maria works as a waitress in a local cafe and lives with Mr José, her companion, who is currently unemployed.

The main problems in the house are: bathroom without the minimum conditions, lack of isolation, deeply degraded electrical installation, roof leaks, floor in danger of falling, among other issues.

This will be a project of medium dimension, where Habitat Portugal will have as priority the house’s interior and roof, which are the most critical areas.

Both her children will help in the construction when they come to Portugal on their vacation, as well as providing financial support for the house’s mortgage.

After this intervention, the Fonseca family will be finally able to live in a decent house, where they will have the minimum hygiene and safety conditions.



This is without any doubt a special story, the story of the Maia family.

Lucinda, Josinda and Graça are three sisters who lived by themselves in a house that was once from their parents and the only source of income is Josinda’s retirement pension.

In spite of well taken care of, the house doesn’t have electricity, canalized water, nor a bathroom (it never had). The roof was another problem, had leaks and we feared that the tiles might flee under strong wind circumstances.

The three sisters are very kind, humble and generous and, although they don’t have many economic possibilities, last year they have welcomed a homeless man that was sleeping on the streets and living from begged money. They let him stay in the basement and feed him in exchange of work in the field where they grow different kinds of vegetables they need.

Lucinda took care of her mother that died from cancer and suffered from depression after her death. The three sisters always dreamed of having a house with minimum conditions to live. The request has arrived to us through a neighbor that also lends them some space in her refrigerator where the sisters keep some of their food.

This is a true generosity case, where, this family that as so little has, opened the doors of their house to host someone even more needed.

With the help of many volunteers, Habitat for Humanity Portugal, this family’s dream will be accomplished, giving them a safe and worthy house to live.

More pictures can be seen at the GALERY


Habitat for Humanity Portugal
Habitat for Humanity Portugal vision: " A world where everyone has a decent place to live"
Convinced that housing is a fundamental human right, Habitat for Humanity Portugal has already served more than 300 people in Portugal since 1996, through the build or reconstruction of houses.
Habitat for Humanity Portugal seeks also do draw attention to the poverty housing problem through several initiatives.