WHO ARE WE?
Casa de Santa Isabel is a therapeutic community for adolescents and adults with special needs and capacities. We want and try to create a place where co-workers and companions can find the possibility for self-development, healing and the fullfilment of their own human potential.
We can give you a metaphor that helps to understand what really moves us: an excelent musician cannot produce harmonious music on a damaged instrument, but it would be tragic to assume that the musician is not a good one. We have to search for the musician! We recognise that in each human being resides a spiritual core, with a pure and healthy essence.
The Community Impulse
Casa de Santa Isabel is guided by a community impulse and by the social, cultural and economic principles of Antroposophy, inspired by Rudolf Steiner, (1861-1925), whose world vision encompasses the spiritual understanding of man and the Universe:
“The well-being of a community of people working together will be the greater when the less the individual claims for himself the proceeds of his work, i.e. the more of these proceeds he makes over to his fellow-workers, the more his own needs are satisfied, not out of his own work but out of the work done by others”.
The Name “Casa De Santa Isabel”
The name of our community was chosen after our Holy Queen Isabel. This Queen is remembered historically for her love and compassion for the poor and needy and also for the introduction of the cult of the Holy Spirit in Portugal, which later on was instrumental in leading the Portuguese seafaring discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries.
The goal of Casa de Santa Isabel is to create a life-sharing community for people with special needs of various ages and for the respective co-workers. We all strive to create healthy human relationships in an atmosphere dedicated to personal, social and cultural renewal, to therapy and to the care for the earth. The recognition of the full potential of each individual human being promotes both independence and interdependence, which in turn helps the growth of each individual in the community as well as the development of the community with each individual.
To share and develop capacities while respecting differences in an ethical way, one of solidarity.
To be a community of living and working, in a high-quality therapeutic atmosphere contributing to the full, harmonious development of the human being.
Respect: Full acceptance of the other.
Sharing: To give and to receive.
Solidarity: Permanent availability.
Ethics: Respect towards the principles and values pertaining to our daily life.
Social Responsibility: The summing up of all the above mentioned values.
Since the foundation of Casa de Santa Isabel, one of the main concerns was the creation of a harmonious environment that in itself would be already therapeutic.
The term environment is meant here in its broadest sense, ranging from the objects and materials that the hands touch daily to the contact with and the care for the surrounding nature.
This is reflected in the way we dress, how we decorate the houses, what we chose to cook (preferably organic wholefood), using renewable energy (solar and wood burning), by working our land organically and bio-dynamically, by trying to save and increase the bio-diversity of our land, etc.
Environmental awareness and education is an importante part of our daily life.
The community is located on predominantely granite land where there is a lot of erosion. The soil is mostly poor, but due to an imense long term effort of reforestation, more than 4,000 deciduous trees have been planted, replacing the pine trees that once completely covered our terrain. Our “companheiros”go for walks or ride bycicles, going from one house to another and be on the surrounding grounds in complete safety.
We do not live solely from bread….
Cultural life in its broadest sense is also vital in the creating of the desired therapeutic environment.
From the flowers in a jar on the table, the chosen picture or reproduction of art on the wall, the rhythm of small poems or songs that accompany the day, to the art classes, the celebration of festivals, small music or theatre presentations either by the “companheiros” or the co-workers – all these contribute to the therapeutic environment of the community.
Art and beauty are always therapeutic!
We also try to contribute to the cultural life in our local community by organising monthly cultural evenings open to the general public, public presentations of our folk dancing group, plays and concerts, etc.
The Atmosphere In Our Residential Homes
For the people we care for, the house is their anchor, their home. It gives them warmth, security and daily rhythm through the meals, daily chores and creative activities. Our “companheiros” live together with the co-workers as a family, where each member has and does his or her own part, maintaining a harmonious functioning of the whole.
Special events such as birthdays, Christmas, etc are celebrated together in these “family groups” and other activities are prepared. All this contributes to the creation of inner stability and a warm and therapeutic atmosphere. Co-workers accomodation is simple but well cared for, and is also located in the house or in a satellite-house. Our “companheiros” have either a single room, or a room shared with another colleague, depending on what is recomended therapeutically. A co-worker is always appointed to take continuous care of them, to supervise and provide for their personal needs.
Casa de Santa Isabel is more than just an Institution - it is a therapeutic community, our buildings reflecting this philosophy. The houses and the rural area of our community occupy 35 hectares on the slopes of the Estrela mountain - Portugal’s highest mountain range situated in the centre of Portugal. The small : eliminar village of S. Romão and the small city of Seia are within walking distance.
What We Provide
We provide assistance in three different social areas, namely Residential Homes, CACI (Activities and Training Center for Inclusion) and professional training.
At the moment we have 6 residential homes, where about 7 “companheiros” and some of the team of at least 4 co-workers live in each one, sometimes with their families.
CACI (Activities and Training Center for Inclusion)
There are many different areas where our “companheiros” can further develop their skills and at the same time contribute to the well-being of others, such as: the bakery, laundry, sewing, weavery, woodwork/carpentry, maintenance workshop, paper recycling, kitchen, forestry, agriculture and vegetable, aromatic and medicinal herb gardens.
Casa de Santa Isabel is an acredited DGERT entity (General Board for Employment and Work Conditions) and is allowed to train people with deficiency and/ or incapacity.
Each one of us is in a process o f development, each walking along a unique path. This means that our therapeutic work is highly individualised, as described in the Individual Plan (PI) for each of our “companheiros”.
We have two main groups according to age, each with different needs:
Children and youngsters, where the guidelines come from therapeutic education.
During this phase, one tries as much as possible to balance and heal developmental abnormalities. The co-worker has to act out of therapeutic principles, in a pedagogical relationship with the child/youngster.
However, adults are accompanied following the principles of Social therapy.
We recognise that each person, including those with mental impairments, has exceptional qualities as well as their difficulties. The co-worker/therapist/guide respects the life path of each adult companheiro, despite their maturity or emotional age.
This means that the therapeutic aspect occurs between two poles.
On the one hand, we try to help correct undesirable behaviour and create challenges in order to stimulate each one’s a positive development, whilst on the other hand, we have to accept certain characteristics belonging to individual adults, and search for a way to maximize the quality of their lives within the limitations imposed by their own destiny.
It is through their work and social encounters that our adult companheiros give their contribution to the world!
Depending on individual need and medical prescription, our companheiros benefit from specific therapies.
At the moment we have 6 residential homes where, in each, about 7 “companheiros” and some of the team of at least 4 co-workers live, sometimes with their families.
For the people we care for, the house is their anchor, their home. It gives them warmth, security and daily rhythm through the meals, daily chores and creative activities. Our “companheiros” live together as a family, where each member has and does their own part, maintaining a harmonious functioning of the whole.
Special events such as birthdays, Christmas, etc are celebrated together in these “family groups” and other activities are prepared. All this contributes to the creation of inner stability and a warm and therapeutic atmosphere. Co-workers accomodation is simple but well cared for, and is also located in the house. Our “companheiros” have either a single room, or a room shared with another colleague, depending on what is recomended therapeutically. A co-worker is always apointed lo take continuous care of them, to supervise and provide for their personal needs.
We try to create the necessary conditions in our various workshops to enable each participant to develop professionally as much as possible and thus be able to offer his/her contribution to the world, in his/her own unique way, according to each one´s capacities. Our companheiros work with the workshop masters and other co-workers in various areas such as: the bakery, kitchen, wood-workshop, weavery, laundry, paper recycling, maintenance, bees-wax candle-making, horticulture, medicinal and kitchen herb gardens, and book-binding.
The master/or co-worker responsible for a workshop and the companheiros work together to create a quality product or service. In this way, work is the key towards development and becoming a complete human being. The products are primarily for use and consumption in the community, but some are also sold in our shop “The Four Seasons”, or in local markets, etc.
Occupational Activities Centre (C.A.O.)
A place for those adults that cannot benefit from a professional training. Here, they can participate in one of various areas available, such as the laundry, kitchen, weavery, woodworkshop, maintenance, paper recycling, agriculture, medicinal and kitchen herb gardens, forestry and book binding. For those needing a more protected environment, we have created an “Artistic Wokshop” with a stronger emphasis on a variety of artistic work.
Besides all the above, our companheiros also have access to various other activities such as acting, painting, swimming, folk dancing, sports, art history and music therapy.
Casa de Santa Isabel is an entity acredited by DGERT (General Board for Employment and Work Conditions) and is allowed to train people with deficiency and/or incapacity in the following areas:
- Wood workshop
- Bakery (Bread and Pastry)
Anthroposophy is a path both of self-knowledge and knowledge of the world.
Nowadays, many people have fundamental questions and inklings about human existence.
Where is Humanity heading? What is the role of the human individual?
Why do we live now, at this time, in this place?
Is it all mere coincidence? Or are we part of a meaningful development and direction, and will each one of us have their own role and place?
Anthroposophy searches for ways to study such questions and can help find answers through research, study and self-knowledge.
Self Knowledge And Knowledge Of The World
The word “Anthroposophy” comes from the Greek “anthropos” and “sophia” – human being and wisdom.
A description for Anthroposophy could be:
“A path of knowledge for the human being to attain consciousness, in freedom, based on individual responsibility, through self knowledge and knowledge of the world”.
Anthroposophy sees the world not only as a reality that can be explained through counting, measuring and touching, but as something much more complex having two aspects: a sensory and a spiritual one , which together form one entity.
Experiencing and Researching
Anthroposophy shows us ways to experience and research the spiritual side of our existence, but does not turn its back on the physical world, quite the oposite. It states that only through really living our earthly life consciously, can we expect to connect with the spiritual nucleus of our existence.
Anthroposophy offers the possibility to deepen our life through inner development. It invites us to open up to the spiritual world, while at the same time, keeping our feet well anchored in the physical world. Through a life comitted to helping others and serving the world, we may develop our own inner being.
BIODYNAMIC AGRICULTURE AND SOCIAL THERAPY
The intensive and excessive exploitation of our planet Earth has brought about contamination that demands not only a biological cure (one of the roots of biodynamics) but also a homeopatic treatment (the so-called biodynamic preparations). We want agriculture to work together with cosmic influences.
Biodynamic agriculture treats a farm like an individual and at the same time a multiple organism, envolving its soil, plants, animals, farmers and consumers, based on a holistic vision that encompasses our interdependence with the whole of nature and the cosmos.
The question is not how to obtain the maximum revenue out of the soil, but how to cultivate in a way that is healthier and therapeutic both for the Earth and for human beings. Biodynamics wants to contribute to a balanced landscape, that will also act as a strong prevention for fire.
Social Therapy and Biodynamic Agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture and social therapy have formed a “very happy marriage” since the very beginning, 100 years ago (1924) for very good reasons.
Firstly, it is well known that working in nature with soil, plants and animals has an enormous therapeutic potential. Caring for the earth and cultivating it, being immersed in nature´s rhythms and harmony, partaking in the miracles of life’s growth, all this is health-giving and therapeutic for everybody! Working in and with nature, surrounded by the Elements, also demands willpower, persistence, patience, fine motricity skills, strength, group work – i.e. there are many challenges and potentialities for human personal development.
Secondly, the results of this work – the products themselves, are an essential and basic contribution for our nutrition, and as such, for a healthier life.
Both Social therapy work and biodynamic agriculture have a healing impulse: heal the Earth and heal the human being! That is why they always go hand in hand.
For more information, visit the Portuguese Biodynamic Association’s site
Hay-making (May – June)
Collecting medicinal plants (May - June)
Apple, pear and grape harvest for juicing (September - October)
Walnut harvest (October)
Olive harvest (December)
Regional Biodynamic Agriculture meetings (Michaelmas and Easter time)
Internships are suitable for:
- Individual students or school groups
- Agricultural students (curricular internships)
- Active senior citizens
"The best is possible!" - Volunteers help us to achieve this purpose.
Every year the community receives volunteers who are a great contribution to our social fabric and to our work. They come from different countries and from different backgrounds. Volunteers make a valuable contribution to the daily home life; others coworkers help with the day of accompanying our people in the workshops, educational and recreational activities. Casa de Santa Isabel offers accommodation, food and guidance for work and life in the community.
There are two ways to integrate as a volunteer:
Volunteer for One Year
We receive volunteers who commit for 1 academic year (September to August) to work together with the responsible employees in residential homes and help monitor teenagers and adults with special needs in:
1) Residential Home;
2) Occupational Activities Center and
3) Community activities and parties.
We receive volunteers in the months of July and August and/or for short periods throughout the year, who help in the houses, in monitoring the students, in the maintenance work of the houses, gardens, etc.
For more information, you can contact the email firstname.lastname@example.org
Office - São Romão
Rua Escola Santa Isabel, 2
Postal Code: 6270-292
São Romão - Seia
Telephone: +351 238 320 310