Maria Pousinho eagerly awaits her weekly physiotherapy session with Ian Martins, one of the Allied Health Team professionals of Co.As.It. Community Services. It is not just about taking care of her physical health but, more importantly, about building connections and sharing stories that revolve around a common factor that binds them both: the Portuguese language.
The 77-year-old Portuguese is commonly described as an introverted person, someone who avoids speaking English. However, the shyness gives way to comfort when she is with Ian. “Ian takes me for a morning walk around the block, helping me to get warmed up for the rest of the day. During our walks, we seize the opportunity to talk about family and life in our own language,” says Maria. “I miss speaking in Portuguese, and I’m not comfortable with English; that’s why I prefer to stay quiet when I’m among people whose English is their first language.”
Maria and her family landed in Brisbane in the early 1980s, driven by a desire to have a better life. Her origins date back to a small village in central Portugal. Ian, on the other hand, came from Brazil and joined Co.As.It. Community Service in 2023. “I feel fulfilled by performing the profession I love and, at the same time, stepping up through the language to make a lovely client feel, somehow, closer to her origins,” says Ian.
At Co.As.It. Community Services, 85% of the staff speaks at least two languages, narrowing language barriers and strengthening the bonds of a crescent multicultural community.