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Roda Viva - Portugal

The Portuguese school and educational project Roda Viva brings a unique holistic approach to supporting both disadvantged children and their caregivers. 

In 1980, a pair of teachers in Portugal were keenly aware of the poverty and problems in integration suffered by families of refugees from the Portuguese colonies, and the seed was sown for the founding of the school that would later become known as Roda Viva, with support from the Susila Dharma-supported International Child Development Programme.


Ever since, Roda Viva’s mission has been to support children, from pre-school to 18, facing various developmental delays. Through the provision of supportive childcare and specialised therapeutic services, Roda Viva is dedicated to promoting the social integration of children from disadvantaged minorities and at-risk groups, and individuals with disabilities within the local community.


Roda Viva's commitment to early intervention and prevention is at the heart of its transformative work. Financial support from SDB has played a crucial role in sustaining a team of specialists, including a social worker, psychologist, speech therapist, two psychomotor therapists, a teacher for after-school classes and a teacher for the youth movement. The provision of extra professional therapies and special activities, particularly for hyperactive, physically disabled, autistic or mentally disabled children, embodies the 'home in the community' aspect of Roda Viva's social work, extending support to both parents and children.

With a current enrolment of 144 children, including 86 in nurseries and 48 in various preschool rooms, Roda Viva serves predominantly refugee and immigrant families. Many hail from Portugal's former colonies—Angola, Timor Leste, Mozambique and Cape Verde—while four refugee children from Ukraine have recently joined. While nursery services are provided free of charge, government subsidies for preschool children fall short of covering essential needs such as building maintenance, school supplies and staff salaries.


Roda Viva's impact extends beyond traditional academic teaching and learning. Afternoons witness the gathering of up to 30 youths aged 12-18, engaging in activities such as dance, music, football and other sports. Remarkably, some of these youths, now teenagers and assistants, were once the young ones benefiting from the school's nurturing environment.


in December 2022 the Director of Social Services in Lisbon visited Roda Viva to discuss expanding the project’s current outreach into the community to include other groups, as well as older people who would be able to attend classes and access the therapies in a new community centre.

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