The Christmas Fair that Gives Back

An and Guido, originally from Belgium, will hold their third XMAS Arts Fair, at their scenic home in Aljezur this month to raise money for Cunina and Madrugada.

WORDS Alex Brennan

The fair will be held on the 26th and 27th of November from 10.30 am until 5 pm and will exhibit a variety of intricate sustainable arts and crafts as well as paintings and handmade Christmas cards made by local artists. Not only are the crafts one of a kind, but all profits will go towards giving children from poorer countries around the world, better access to education.

An, who was a qualified nurse and also a master in African, Mexican and Indian basketry, has had a passion for art since she can remember and is constantly working on her next piece. In the market, she will be selling a variety of textile pieces. The finished pieces will consist of a ‘mish mash’ of clothes sourced from flea markets or charity shops as she gives them a ‘second chance’.

Her other creations are generally formed from her own handmade paper. She creates the paper using natural materials local to the area such as agave plant, eucalyptus, pine needles and more, inspired by her basketry roots. She then transforms this natural material into a unique piece of art in the form of a necklace, lamp, bowl and more. In fact, one of her bowls was created entirely from Christmas cards she’d received one year.

Guido will exhibit his wooden figures and candle holders. The quirky figures come in many shapes and sizes, but all portray a similar style, unique to Guido and are always made from driftwood or old pallets. Guido has always been a ‘handy man’ and enjoys helping An with the ‘technical’ side of her art, such as the lighting in her lamps. However, he also has a number of MSC, MBA and PHD’s up his sleeve as well as been an honouree judge of the commercial court.

Further to their own pieces, they have also collaborated with other local artists such as Jules van Veen who will be exhibiting her paintings, cards and gifts as well as Mary Bryde who will be showing her handmade cards.

For several years, Guido and An have been raising money for children in India, Brazil and Haiti. From helping a school become self-sufficient to introducing a maternity ward in India, to teaching two teenage boys to build so they could build their mother a house in Brazil, as well as gaining practical experience. Currently, they are supporting a young girl in Haiti through school.

They made this all happen through a Belgian charity called Cunina. This non-profit organisation supports poor children from all around the world. “We have always believed it is important to give back when you are in the position to do so, but also, we realise it is important to know exactly where their funds are going.” ‘Only 9% of their fundraising money goes to the admin costs of the company which is a massive decrease in normal charity operating costs and is why we donate to Cunina Guido says. The pair “strongly believe that education is the key to a better future”.

Cunina’s mission statement is, “Anyone who has access to education, can learn a profession. This means just as much as escaping the vicious circle of poverty. Education is necessary for individual and social development and leads to sustainable development.”

As well as the majority of funds being sent to Cunina, the remaining percentage will be sent to Madrugada, based in Luz. Madrugada is a charity which provides palliative nursing from the comfort of the person’s home. It also offers many other valuable services to those who are terminally ill.

With An aged 82 and Guido 80, both say their secret to a long, healthy life is to “create art and stay social” and they love to offer this XMAS fair to do just that. If you’re looking for a special gift for someone that also gives back, or just fancy a warm drink and snack, they welcome you to come along and enjoy their home and art.

Vale de Telha A5 (1st house on your left going from Vales to Arrifana)

+351 282 997 258



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