My name is Katya and I am from Russia. I was born in Siberia in Yakutsk. Last year I decided to move to Saint Petersburg, Russia to discover a new place and spend several months there. I’m a financer and worked in the investment and finance area for 2 years, but I wanted to try myself as a volunteer and be a part of an environmental project. I found an interesting A Rocha project about microplastics, which not only contained the study of the topical issue, but it was also in sunny Portugal. This country was so attractive with the colorful nature and proximity to the ocean. It took me almost three months to get my visa, and at the same time the Coronavirus was spreading all over the world. I didn’t realize the seriousness of the situation until I arrived at the airport. Restrictions on entry and exit between countries had spread rapidly and if I had postponed my flight for another day, it would have been almost impossible to make it to Portugal. In March 2020, I came to A Rocha Portugal to study microplastics, run along the beaches of Alvor and think about how to save this planet from a plastic epidemic. Now I have been with A Rocha for 7 months. When I am not studying microplastics, I am engaged in the farm, learning the basics of agriculture, and studying birds and insects. I’m happy to spend time with friendly and interesting people, especially in this difficult time in the world. I do not know what kind of world will open to us tomorrow, but today I am grateful for sunny days, bird singing, smelling flowers, drinking coffee and nice people.


My name is Tiago and I am from Belgium, though I am both Belgian and Portuguese. I am studying biology and I am entering the last year of my degree. I had free time until January, when my final courses will start, so I thought it would be a good idea to come to A Rocha Portugal to learn and volunteer. I have always wanted to experience living in Portugal and this was the perfect time to do so. I have been at Cruzinha for one month so far and will stay a total of three months. The people are great and so kind here – just like a little family. I enjoy learning more about birds, moths, and agriculture/garden work. The food has been delicious and the sun is also great! Overall it has been a good first month and I am looking forward to the rest of my time at Cruzinha. 


My name is Esmée and as long as I can remember I have been passionate about nature. I grew up in the Netherlands with my two sisters and mother. We first lived in an apartment, then in a house, and later moved to a small town called Heerjansdam. In the apartment I was not very in touch with nature, but I remember observing lady bugs and collecting insects with my sisters in my grandma’s garden. When we moved, the first thing I did was climb in the trees and I came home covered in dirt because I had fallen in the pond while observing frogs. During our family holidays we would hike, picnic, and swim in the lakes or go skiing in Austria. I have travelled to Costa Rica , New Zealand, Greece, Scandinavia and more to explore nature and culture. My other passion is nature photography. I love the ocean and marine mammals, especially dolphins and whales, but the whole diversity of nature is what fascinates me the most. This is why I chose to study a master in Forest and Nature Conservation, to conserve nature and biodiversity. This is also why I chose to study microplastics in Portugal with A Rocha. I have been here at Cruzinha before and love the people, beaches, festivals, and birds – especially owls like the Little owls, Athene noctua, that exist around here. I am also happy to learn more about the Russian culture from my project partner, Katya, and to learn to speak some Portuguese.


Katya and Esmée are being sponsored by project number:  2018-1-PT02-ESC11-005590 of the European Solidarity Corp