I arrived in Portugal in April 2000, after finishing Polytechnic University of Timisoara Romania, Faculty of Engineering Electro Energética, finished course with a Degree in Electrical Energy Engineer after 5 years of university study.

I left my country of origin, Romania with the prospect of a better life and with hope of finding a country where the fact of being a woman did not immediately mean a disadvantage, where she was on an equal footing with men. The first contact with the West was quite shocking when I was forced to leave the bus to Lisbon on the border of Spain with France. The reason was that even with a visa for the Schengen area, it did not meet all the conditions that a tourist should comply with. For the first time I was forced to think like an immigrant and with the few French-language skills I still had in high school, I persuaded a taxi driver, at a cost, to get us across the border. The driver taking advantage of the situation agreed to take us to Bilbao accompanied by another colleague, because we were around 9 people in the same situation. As we passed the border the driver asked me to smile so as not to arouse suspicion and all I remember saying to him in French was “I’m very tired!”. After a month, on June of 2000, I began to work in civil construction as a heavy cleaner but most of the time as a servant in a team composed of me, a Moldovan and a Ukrainian. In order to communicate I and the Ukrainian we had to learn both Portuguese. He used the lunch hour while the others were resting, to learn the grammar of the Portuguese language. As I had computer skills and a well-developed organizational spirit, I was also the post-employment secretary of a Romanian entrepreneur on behalf of Ghita Luca, which had staff working in the same area. In this way I helped to legalize about 80 Romanian workers dealing with bureaucratic jobs like payments, receipts, social security sheets. After nearly nine months of work during which I learned how to make pasta for joints and other jobs that are usually specifically male and knowing that the work was going to end I had the courage to talk to the person in charge to get me a job. It was at this time, in February 2001, that I was promoted to cleaning maid in the luxury villas in Pinheiros Altos and having obtained a good contract of employment I legalized myself in the first wave of legalizations made in 2001. Since I was a good maid and also because I was very reserved, I was noticed by the chief financial officer of the Pinheiros Altos management group and I started working only at his home in Santa Catarina, Loulé. Winning the trust of Mr. Paul, the financial director of the Pinheiros Altos group at that time in 2001, he asked me to work a few hours in a bar at Quinta Shopping to replace a person who left without warning. It was a difficult period of my life, with many humiliations, a time when I felt exploited in exchange for an orderly derisory but did not want to give up in any way to dream that my life would improve in the not too distant future. Early in the spring of 2001 I became pregnant and became a medical doctor from the age of five months. During my pregnancy I used my free time, when I felt strong enough, to help Romanian citizens in problems with which I felt more comfortable trying to find ways to reduce bureaucracy. I began to carry out translations recognized by the notary public, to attend various social security registration processes, advice regarding employment contracts and others. I had my daughter in February 2002 and after four months of maternity leave, when I was to return to work my contract was not renewed, because the company felt impaired by my right to breastfeed which meant that I only worked five hours per day. I registered with the Employment Center in August 2002 and began receiving the unemployment benefit. While unemployed I took care of my daughter and took the opportunity to take First and Second level of Portuguese as a foreign language, a free course promoted by the Institute of Employment and Professional Training. I tried to obtain the equivalence of my foreign university course but I was not granted equivalence due to the lack of compatibility of some theoretical subjects that, I believe, have nothing to do with my profession, for example conversation and chemistry techniques, the latter having been withdrawn from the school program. In March 2003 she was assisting an acquaintance to look for work as a janitor in a property management company, not having sufficient knowledge of Portuguese to present herself to an interview. While I was trying to convince those responsible about the abilities and qualities of my acquaintance, they questioned me about my qualifications and knowledge. After talking a little about my lack of experience to work in an office I presented my CV that happened to have always with me inside the car waiting for the right opportunity. The company manager Mrs. Fefa Casco Reid contacted me by phone after a few hours to propose to me to work in the accounting department. I did not want to believe it but I accepted the proposal that was being made, well above my expectations. In March 2003 I started working as an Administrative Assistant at Crown International Services with a place of work at Rua do Calvário nº 96, Almancil. The checkbook was delivered to me the first week and even though I had never written a check in my life, I had to learn quickly to get it done because by the end of the month the employees of the company began to appear. It was a test I went through with panache. When in the accounting department in which until then was the only employee appeared my current boss, financial department director Mrs. Carla Contreiras my career began to rise visibly. I learned from my boss and my co-workers that in life everything is possible when you really want to and we form a great team that works very well to this day. I learned a lot, we introduced a computer system that made our company evolve a lot. I began to learn how the Portuguese tax system works, I learned totally unknown accounting notions up to that time, I took several tax, secretarial and accounting courses that helped me a lot in my work. In 2006, at a moment of impasse for the company, we had to take account of the accounts of the three companies on behalf of my employer, Mrs Shirley Dunne. An agreement was then reached with the Sovereign Accounting Office based in Lagoa, an agreement where it was mentioned that we undertook to carry out the accounting of the companies and they were responsible as OCD to verify and sign our accounts. That being the case, and how my boss’s confidence in my abilities was great, invested in an intensive two-week accounting course at the Sovereign de Lagoa Accounting Office where I learned what Portuguese accounting, postings, credit and debt meant. As of that date my responsibility in the company has increased and is now responsible for payments, processing of salaries, billing, postings, social security payments, withholding payment and trying to be always updated as tax laws change weekly. In February of 2005 I signed the deed of my apartment T2 in Almancil being the first Romanian to obtain a bank loan without surety. This was my journey in Portugal and what made me who I am today! In January 2006, after being approved in an exam organized by the Embassy of Romania in Lisbon, I began to work as a recognized translator of the same and also to provide support as an interpreter and translator at the Judicial Court of Loulé, at the GNR Office in Almancil, Quarteira, Vilamoura , Faro. In September of 2006 I entered through the Special Competitions at the University of Algarve, Faculty of Science and Technology to achieve through the equivalences by disciplines the equivalence of my university course, but after passing the first exam in which I was able to participate, the Chemistry exam, a discipline that I only studied in the seventh year of schooling, I was proud to be approved even though it was done in a foreign language but I gave up the University to be able to spend the little free time I still had with my family and my five year old daughter. I also do not like the idea of ​​wasting my time with a course I had already taken and for which I have a Bachelor’s degree. In October 2006, I joined the Assembly of the Association of Parents and Guardians of Education of the Almancil School Group, and since then I have been an active member of the association fighting for the well-being of the students, also thinking of my daughter who was in the Kindergarten of Almancil. In October 2006, being already known as an active member of the foreign community of Almancil, I was invited to a meeting in Quarteira where I met members of the Graal and the Time Bank of Quarteira to discuss the problems of immigrants, interculturalism and other matters of real interest both for us and foreigners as for the Portuguese society. As a result of these meetings, we formed a group of 25 people that I represented as a spokesperson along with Mr. Dudas Ion, in Lisbon at the Intercultural Forum where we presented the conclusions and solutions we found for some problems that arose during the meetings. On the way back to the Algarve while I was listening to the conversations that took place between the participants of the forum and their real interest in the issues developed during the forum I realized that the union is the force. I also had a few conversations with the members of Quarteira’s Bank of Time, Mrs. Gilberta and Mrs. Isabel Pinto, who made me see our integration in Portuguese society. In December 2006 I started to prepare, with the support of a friend of mine from the Republic of Moldova, Mrs. Mariana Melintii and with Mr. Ion Dudas, a Christmas Basket to raise funds to create an Association to support my countrymen. The drawing of the raffle that won the Christmas Basket took place in the Orthodox Church of Faro with the support of Father Ioan Rasnoveanu. On January 5, 2007 we signed the deed of the Doina Association of Romanian and Moldovan Immigrants Algarve, a deed that was published in the Diário da Republica on February 19, 2007. Our first action, the Miss Martisor Contest, a combination of tradition, fun and joy, was a success at the local level. The realization of the event was not easy, but I felt that I was owed an event of this magnitude to my countrymen, to demonstrate that in life working is not everything and that we must stop now and again and remember what we are, our traditions, encourage our teens and support our youngest children. Throughout the year 2007, I tried to put into practice a part of what we dreamed during the sessions of the “Vamos Utopiar” project – Quarteira 2006. – March 2007 – Miss Martisor – April 4, 2007 collaboration with the Association of Parents of the Grouping of Schools of Almancil in a Debate on failure and school indiscipline. – 20 November 2007 I participated in a training session organized by FRAPAL and ACIDI on immigration – November 25, 2007 Deputy of the President at the polling station of the Euro-parliamentary elections for Romania. Every Sunday I take up the position of a Romanian language teacher at a Sunday school, an idea that was fulfilled with the support of ASCA. I am trying to teach children, especially those born in Portugal, our traditions, our customs and support others in the problems they face in integrating them into Portuguese schools, problems often due to a lack of sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language. Institutes with whom I collaborate: Almancil Town Council, ASCA Almancil, Association of Parents and Guardians of Schools of Almancil, Time Bank Quarteira, Graal Lisbon, GNR Almancil, Quarteira, Vilamoura, Loulé, Faro, Loulé Judicial Court, Vilamoura Romanian Honorary Consulate, Loulé Municipal Council, CLAI Faro, Romanian Embassy of Lisbon, Romanian Cultural Institute of Lisbon, Orthodox Church Faro. I decided to apply for the IMMIGRANT ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR competition because words such as integration, immigration, publicity and the like are part of my life just as my daughter is part of my family. Because I have learned to be happy here in Portugal, I have learned to love true friendship, I have learned to find myself in everyday life with optimism and hope, I have learned all this and more with the Portuguese and that is why I do everything to convince that deep down there is no us and they exist just me and the others. I am myself and the others are the Portuguese and my fellow citizens. Because I do not give up when it’s difficult and because I think the best achievement is when the fight is bigger. Because I keep believing the young people and I do everything to keep them at my side in everything I do. Because I taught the Portuguese to believe in us, to trust, to like us, and to love us. We wept together in the days of sorrow and we celebrate all on feast days. Because if you ask me where my home is, I can not say, I only know that my soul is here today, in Portugal. I may not bring increases to the economy of Portugal or Romania, but I enrich myself in what it costs most to gain well-being, compassion for others, and try to reinvent altruism. Elisabeta Ecaterina Necker Because I do not give up when it’s difficult and because I think the best achievement is when the fight is bigger. Because I keep believing the young people and I do everything to keep them at my side in everything I do. Because I taught the Portuguese to believe in us, to trust, to like us, and to love us. We wept together in the days of sorrow and we celebrate all on feast days. Because if you ask me where my home is, I can not say, I only know that my soul is here today, in Portugal. I may not bring increases to the economy of Portugal or Romania, but I enrich myself in what it costs most to gain well-being, compassion for others, and try to reinvent altruism. Elisabeta Ecaterina Necker Because I do not give up when it’s difficult and because I think the best achievement is when the fight is bigger. Because I keep believing the young people and I do everything to keep them at my side in everything I do. Because I taught the Portuguese to believe in us, to trust, to like us, and to love us. We wept together in the days of sorrow and we celebrate all on feast days. Because if you ask me where my home is, I can not say, I only know that my soul is here today, in Portugal. I may not bring increases to the economy of Portugal or Romania, but I enrich myself in what it costs most to gain well-being, compassion for others, and try to reinvent altruism. Elisabeta Ecaterina Necker Because I taught the Portuguese to believe in us, to trust, to like us, and to love us. We wept together in the days of sorrow and we celebrate all on feast days. Because if you ask me where my home is, I can not say, I only know that my soul is here today, in Portugal. I may not bring increases to the economy of Portugal or Romania, but I enrich myself in what it costs most to gain well-being, compassion for others, and try to reinvent altruism. Elisabeta Ecaterina Necker Because I taught the Portuguese to believe in us, to trust, to like us, and to love us. We wept together in the days of sorrow and we celebrate all on feast days. Because if you ask me where my home is, I can not say, I only know that my soul is here today, in Portugal.

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