Portugal, a leading example for refugees resettlement 

By Rosemary Morrow

When the Taliban took control of Kabul in August 2021, a team of young peace volunteers were forced to leave Afghanistan for security reasons. An international group of friends who knew the young peace volunteers, their human rights and agriculture work, mobilized by getting them to safer countries: some have gone to Brazil, others to Germany, and a cohort went to Portugal.

This last cohort was supported by a very progressive government policy and a visionary permaculturist, Eunice Neves, who saw a solution rather than a problem in this opportunity for resettling people.

This program is the Mértola Model. It’s been so successful that we expect another group of 20 Afghani young people (including one baby) to receive their visas to Portugal very, very soon.
The first group of eight (including one baby) were resettled in a rural area. This next stage is more people, and in an urban area: a small regional city.

In October, I was so fortunate to visit the first group at the end of their first six months in Portugal with Greta Carroll.
I saw the results of admired integrated planning for social, environmental, and economic integration into Portuguese culture and people. The members of this first group are learning Portuguese and working in a regenerative agriculture project. They have been invited into the local soccer club, are learning to swim and the child goes to a kindergarten where their parents mix with other parents.
They offer hospitality to Mértolans and are known and appreciated by the community when they have lunch in the local café.

In their PDC, they learned how to make base maps to plot the contours of Afghanistan and drew up a design for a rural Afghan village.
Another design project was a site for a family compound in Kabul. They are now working on a permaculture manual in Dari for Afghanistan. This will be the
first resource designed to suit the landscapes, livelihoods and resources in Afghanistan, and is desperately needed during a time of uncertainty.

As I knew and had taught these young ones previously and had met some of them twice during the times when I was teaching permaculture in Kabul, I was struck by their quiet confidence and sense of safety in the town. They are being supported to fulfill their individual promise and gifts.

In Afghanistan most would not have the opportunity to participate so freely in many fields.

Together we made a video for fundraising for the next cohort to go to Portugal and we hope you will see it soon.

To read the previous articles about the Mértola Model please follow the link.

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