Member Highlight March 2022

This month we are talking with Maria Neves

Maria is the new IWP Executive Board Treasurer, replacing Barbara Schafer, who stepped down last month.

Maria was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, of Portuguese parents who had emigrated from mainland Portugal.  Maria moved around to different provinces of the country, ending up in Hillcrest, from where she emigrated. Almost all the family from her father’s side moved to South Africa and stayed there; whereas only half of her mother’s side did. Maria married a Portuguese man, but became divorced after 35 years of marriage.

In SA she studied finance and became an accountant, working for 23 years for Smith & Nephew, a global company. Business trips took her to Poland, India, Amsterdam, Dubai, China, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the UK.

In 2020, during lockdown, Maria took a repatriation flight and moved to Portugal due to political, economical and security reasons. In November 2019, Maria’s decision to choose Portugal as her new home was made easier by her upbringing and speaking the language at home as well as having dual citizenship. Maria still had family here whom she visited throughout her life and several friends had also moved here over the years, most of them living up north. The decision for Maria to settle along the Lisbon line was influenced by the fact that her sister had bought an apartment in the neighbourhood over 20 years ago and also intends to move here, hopefully within the next couple of years, when her youngest son has completed his studies. Maria herself doesn’t have any children.

When Maria first arrived here, she joined InterNations, but only managed to attend one event before the second lockdown started. However, she had met a South African lady who told her about IWP and also introduced her to other fellow South Africans.
In February last year she became an IWP member, attending coffee mornings,  walks and lunches. For her it’s all about meeting new people from different countries and making new friends. She finds it easy to connect because most IWP members have a common thread in that they have also adopted Portugal as their new country.

Maria is not a sporty person at all, but has hacked a ball or two at golf and may consider picking this up at a later stage. She enjoys cooking and baking, sewing, yoga and dancing, and her Catholic religion is important to her.  And Maria wants to pick up traveling again, mainly in Europe.