Portugal: Casa de Santa Isabel is a therapeutic community for youngsters and adults with special needs, situated in São Romão near Seia in the Serra de Estrela. This community provides people with special needs with the possibility for self-development and achievement of their full potential.
The initiative was founded in 1981 as the first anthroposophical institution for Curative Education in Portugal. Most people with special needs and their caregivers work and live together in six residential settings and share all day-life as a community. There are also co-workers and pupils living in their families outside, who come to work and live with the community only during the day.
With a common daily routine the initiative is trying to create a place where everyone feels appreciated and stimulated to develop, thus avoiding an “institutional character”.
The workshops enable each member to give a contribution to the needs of the world, working together in the kitchen, bakery, laundry, carpentry, weavery, tapestry, paper recycling, agriculture, forestry and maintenance.
The community has an international character with co-workers and volunteers not only from Portugal, but also from Spain, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Czech Republic and the Netherlands.
During the night from October 2 to October 3, 2010, tragedy struck when a fire destroyed one of the houses and two community members lost their lives. After this terrible event the initiative ventured into a new beginning, to continue its valuable work for people with disabilities.
Although today some years have passed since the event, the Casa de Santa Isabel continues to rely on donations.