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Nuno Franco, Mouraria´s Community Mediator

Nuno Franco in Mouraria, Lisbon

Living in Mouraria for 35 years, nobody knows the neighborhood better than him and he is dedicated to help those in need. Among the guided tours to tourists and locals, we wanted to hear the story of someone who talks a lot, but also learned to listen.

How are you connected to Mouraria?
My father was born in Mouraria and when he married he moved to Alto de S. João, with another kind of conditions. I was born in 1959 and when I was 20 years old I went to live with my grandmother in Mouraria. I was looking for my independence and after she died I continued to live in the neighbourhood until the present day.

Can you explain your link to the Renovar a Mouratia Association?
I was always connected to the associative movement. I was a member of International Amnesty, SOS Racism and when April 25 occurred I was 15 years old. There was an aura of freedom that influenced young people at that time. The Renovar a Mouraria Association was founded because there was a deficiency in the neighbourhood of human rights. It was a neighbourhood forgotten, stigmatized and that annoyed me because it was a beautiful neighbourhood. Ines Andrade, who is currently still the president of the Association, was the initial flame. We felt we had to do something to draw attention to the situation of the entities in which the neighbourhood was. The movement started in 2007 and first people were surprised. Only after much hard work that is began to work.

And how does the guided tours to Mouraria emerged?
I used to promote such visits to friends. They asked me why my neighbourhood was special and I showed them. Since then I dedicated myself to guided visits because this was a way to break the stigma and to show the neighbourhood to people. I always say that I am not a guide, I’m a person who lives in the neighbourhood, so people can realize that they will be guided by a person who loves Mouraria. People in the neighbourhood really like Mouraria, and it makes no sense to move to another neighbourhood. We got used to it, we have our comfort zones.

Where are your comfort zones?
I love to go to Amigos da Severa to have a beer in the evening and mingle with people. It’s a good meeting point because I work as Community Moderator, I’m the interface between locals and traders, emigrants and institutions that make local development in the neighbourhood. And there I meet people, I talk to them and usually they come to me to speak about their problems. I always carry a notebook where I can write the stories.

Are you a listener?
Yes, I talk a lot, but I learned to listen. I have this vice: I talk a lot and especially about Mouraria I speak enthusiastically. But it is very important to listen and I learn it. I feel I am the person where people rely their problems. But apart from the pubs and restaurants in the neighbourhood where I like to go – as Trigueirinho or Eurico – I like to have my morning coffee at Sr. Simões, the bottom of Rua do João do Outeiro, which has a yellow doors. I also go to Leitaria Moderna ou Leitaria Brilhante, people recognize me. One of the jobs I do as a Community Moderator is to visit people at their homes. If the person is old I ask if they have any need, or if they need home care. If the person is young and I see they are at home by afternoon I ask if they have jobs. So far I helped 113 people to find a job with the Mais Emprego program.

What is most rewarding thing about your job?
To help people. For me it’s not enough to be part of Renovar a Mouraria Association. I like to feel useful and it’s great to have solutions to people’s lives.

Nuno and Os Amigos da Severa owner

With Sr. António in Amigos da Severa

Nuno Franco in Mouraria

In Renovar a Mouraria Association

Nunco Franco's notebook

With his notebook where he writes peeple’s problems to solve