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  • Writer's pictureJoia

Memorial Speech for IWP

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Jardim, Hotel Palácio, Estoril

​Celebration of Life Memorial, International Women of Portugal

24 September 2019

Good morning!

Thank you all for coming. It’s good to see you all and good to be here with you.

The legacy of Chris Rola in IWP is multifaceted. We've heard today about her work on behalf of charities—her dedication to mothers and children, to women battling illness, to newly arrived members struggling with language and culture. We’ve heard about her work in various aspects of IWP governance, how much it meant to her to keep this organization going and operating smoothly, to fulfill its mission to help each other live well in this beautiful country. Chris loved to participate in our morning coffees, our lunches and events throughout the year, to pass on to others in particular what meant so much to her over her lifetime here: the personal friendships that are the heart and soul of our multinational community.

What is wonderful about IWP, about our membership, is that it is big enough to contain all of us. As women who have lived all over the world, grown up in cultures perhaps different from our parents, fallen in love with partners and perhaps raised children in cultures different from our own childhoods, the joy we feel encountering others whose complexity reflects our own - is always profound.

This is the legacy Chris passed on to me personally, that what we share far outshines our differences, that what we recognize in each other and experience together far outweighs our attempts to express ourselves when words fail. What keeps us going to our meetings and activities and happy hours reaches past our separate languages and cultures to a deeper understanding, one that is the same for all of us—when we feel joy or sorrow or pain, when we laugh or cry—we see ourselves reflected in each other. We are not alone.

As women we know that reason and emotion, thoughts and feelings, nature and nurture, are vitally intertwined at all times; as international women building our lives on the coast of Portugal, we know we cannot do so alone, that our nature is to share our lives with each other, that our very needs are intertwined, that simply caring about each other is the purest form of communication.

Thank you.

Joia Lewis

President, International Women of Portugal

24 September 2019

Hotel Palácio, Estoril

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