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Coronavirus: Asylum seekers return Portuguese kindness during COVID-19 lockdown

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Coronavirus: Asylum seekers return Portuguese kindness during COVID-19 lockdown
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When asylum seekers landed in Italian ports last summer from across the Mediterranean, Portugal was one of the European countries that stepped in to help out.

It provided support, lodging and access to the country’s healthcare systems to help thousands of refugees.

Now those who have benefited from that help are showing their gratitude, by helping in the country’s fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Nadege is one of the five refugees who have been helping, among many Portuguese volunteers, in a solidarity kitchen organised by The Braga International School, in northern Portugal.

“I’ve decided to help because Portugal has helped me and my family when we passed through very difficult moments,” she said. “And to help people who have difficulties is a real pleasure for me.”

The kitchen has distributed more than 9,000 meals to those in need. Some have lost their incomes. Others are isolated at a campsite because they are infected with COVID-19.

Syrian refugee Ahmad Sido says he can imagine what they are facing.

“The disease is like a war," he said. "It’s more complicated because people don’t have help, food. We humans know to help and we help.”

Similar initiatives have sprung up in other parts of the country. In Lisbon, a Syrian couple who own a restaurant has been offering meals to health professionals who are on the coronavirus frontline.