How international students can change one family’s life

Empowering disadvantaged families through better housing.
ESAA Projects, .

On the weekend of 6th and 7th of April 2019, ESN Lisboa, in cooperation with the Just a Change Association, organized a social awareness activity with a disadvantaged family in one of Lisbon’s socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The exchange students helped cleaning, painting and isolating the apartment and, besides that, new furniture and utilities were brought and installed, and the apartment was cleaned from top to bottom to allow a healthier and more liveable environment. In this specific case, the rehabilitated apartment belonged to a family of a single mom and her 5 children living on one single minimum wage.

The project was a success overall and it exceeded the expectations of the 14 exchange students as they did not think they would have such autonomy and responsibility in the job that had to be done. Everything was coordinated by a Just a Change expert who divided all the tasks between the students and monitored the work as it was done.

This project met the Cluster 3: Increasing Social Inclusion, Empowerment, and Participation, and particularly the Component 1 (Give voice to marginalised populations) and Component 2 (Facilitate understanding across cultures, religions, and political divides). By developing this project and disseminating it through our communication channels, as well as through our partners’ channels, we reached a sizeable audience that became more sensible to the issue of poor standards of living and deficient housing, therefore giving a stronger voice to these marginalised communities.

The Erasmus+ programme is a testament of understanding across cultures and by fomenting the informal meeting between exchange students and Portuguese families through this project. An important dynamic was created so that the international students had a better sense of the local reality while the families were able to get in touch with different cultures.

Overall, the “Rebuild a Home” project created a powerful partnership between the disadvantaged families of our city and our international students. We can be sure that our brave students left their city a little bit more inclusive than it was before this event!

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