Without hesitation: Meet the SPEAK Guimarães founders

Linking old history with new creations, the castle walls of Guimarães provide opportunities for language exchange and cultural nourishment.

Nelson, Ana, Alexandre, and Talha added one more reason that will certainly result in a more wonderful atmosphere.

Their contribution was essential, by embracing diversity in the social life within the city.

The interest in social causes connected these ambitious individuals to embark on their next journey, SPEAK Guimarães!

Let’s start with Nelson:

Nelson Oliveira from Guimarães holds a degree in Business and Management.

He always felt a profound urge to make a difference in the lives of those who need help the most.

He has been a Refood volunteer in Guimarães since 2018, promoting empathy, respect, and solidarity to all.

Nelson Oliveira from SPEAK Guimarães
Nelson Oliveira

While learning how to connect a friend with the Portuguese language, I discovered the SPEAK Project through ACM

Discovering SPEAK, he became greatly interested in our concept and methods of operation.

Due to the influx of migrants and refugees to the city, it was about time to act! How? By starting the SPEAK Guimarães initiative in Guimarães. 

To do this, he aimed to assemble a dedicated team to facilitate the enjoyable exchange of languages and cultures.

Such actions resulted in a diverse and rich community based on respect and solidarity.

Who’s Ana?

Ana Alves, 21 years old, originally from Ponte da Barca, holds a degree in Fine Arts and Artistic Technologies.

Throughout her academic journey, Ana had the privilege of developing and participating in various social projects, proving that the power of art changes mindsets and raises awareness regarding fragilities in society.

Ana Alves from SPEAK Guimarães
Ana Alves

She embarked on a photographic project within the homeless community and uncovered the vulnerabilities of the oppressed and misunderstood.

Through photography and poetry, her aim was to convey that these people are as valuable as anyone else. Especially human as anyone else, and that our daily indifference is responsible for the harsh conditions they endure. 

“From the beginning, I believed it was a good and necessary opportunity, given the significant number of refugees and immigrants in Guimarães. Understanding the numerous challenges these individuals face, I saw in SPEAK an excellent strategy to assist them in learning the language of their new home.” Ana

What about Alexandre?

Alexandre Ferreira, 22 years old, from Guimarães, holds a degree in Fine

Arts and Artistic Technologies.

During his academic journey, he participated in social projects.

Alexandre Ferreira from SPEAK Guimarães
Alexandre Ferreira

With a group of friends, Alexandre and his team developed a project with a shelter and rehabilitation centre called Methamorphys.

Together, they created various artistic works. Providing these individuals with friendly and caring company, and addressing their life challenges with empathy and creativity.

He saw in SPEAK an opportunity to help people who often come from challenging and vulnerable life situations. 

He believes that sharing his language could resolve the social isolation that many endure.

Without hesitation, he joined SPEAK Guimarães.

Meet Talha from SPEAK Guimarães.

Talha Ehsan is 24 years old and is originally from Pakistan.

He was pursuing a higher education degree in Ukraine when the war began. With no alternative, he travelled across Europe. Searching for a place to start a new life. Guimarães is now his home in Portugal.

Talha Ehsan from SPEAK Guimarães
Talha Ehsan

He arrived in Portugal a year and a half ago and has been living in Guimarães for a year. Currently, he is enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences at the University of Minho.

He was a volunteer at the Red Cross. There Thala found a way to address his urge to help the world. 

He believes that love, peace and solidarity should have no barriers, whether cultural or religious. As a refugee himself, he had experienced the conflicts of the world. 

To enhance his integration, he decided to learn a new language. Surprise, surprise, he was invited to join SPEAK Guimarães. 

He also assists in organizing cultural exchange events that promote harmonious and enriching moments.

He recognized the importance of a SPEAK in Guimarães in the life of an immigrant or refugee. Joining the latter without hesitation.

SPEAK Guimarães during the Founders meetup
SPEAK Founder meetup 2023, SPEAK Guimarães

Crossed Paths before SPEAK Guimarães.

Even before such a courageous initiative had started, our founders were already actively helping the community. Persistent as they are, nothing halted them from pursuing what they love the most, helping others, now together.

Alexandre was involved in two projects initiated by Ana Alves, one of which was a photographic

project about a homeless couple. 

Through Nelson Oliveira, he learned about Talha and the SPEAK

Ana was invited by APPACDM to work on an artistic project.

She and Alexandre created a series of self-portraits through painting. They showcase their unique way of comprehending and observing the world, which is truly fascinating, enriching, and artistically inspiring.

Through Nelson Oliveira, she received an invitation to establish a SPEAK initiative in Guimarães.

It was in Guimarães, through the Red Cross, that Talha met Nelson Oliveira.

Nelson helped Talha integrate SPEAK Guimarães, along with Alexandre and Ana.

Founder meetup, SPEAK Guimarães

Be one of us! We encourage you to make the world a better place.

Now that Nelson, Ana, Alexandre and Talha started their journey, everybody is welcome to join them, there is much to be shared and contemplated.

Foreign or native, any individual is invited to join this initiative. There is no limit to cultural exchange and language learning.

Now that everything is settled, the decision is in your hands. Will you join a group in Guimarães, or will you go to the next level as a buddy?

If you want to make a difference in migrants’ lives, join SPEAK. Throughout 12 sessions, you will be able to share your language and culture. Help us create a more inclusive world, one city at a time, like José, Sara and Fernando did in Torres Vedras connecting migrants and refugees. Start championing diversity now!

Author: João Sousa

João is a intercultural enthusiast who loves research and books. He visited many places throughout the world, joined SPEAK as a Copywriter. Curious about the facts of life and history, he loves every subject ranging from psycology to linguistics.

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