Radio Jersey has been listening to ‘Voices’ from the
Portuguese community in Jersey, and decided to go to Madeira to
hear from some of the people who spent their working lives in Jersey
and have returned to their island to live.
population – 255,000
Unemployment is at 2.5%
Principle industry – Tourism
Average monthly wage – 350 EUROS
Madeira is spectacularly mountainous, with small villages scattered
around the coast, across the steep mountain slopes and in some inland
valleys. Listen to Ricardo
Camacho’s surprise when he arrived in Jersey to discover it
was small and flat.
of its steep terrain, cultivation is on stepped terraces, often
high up on the mountain slopes. Until relatively recently the precipitous
terrain meant long and arduous journeys for villagers to get to
their fields and for the children to get to school. A trip to Funchal
could take a whole day.
1974 there has been large scale emigration from the island to South
Africa, Venezuela, Brazil, Panama and to Jersey. People like Maria
De Sousa emigrated to these countries to find a better life, and
to find jobs. The majority of islanders always plan to return to
their villages, and over the years many have returned, bought businesses
and built new homes.
De Sousa returned to Madeira after working in Jersey for more than
twenty years. She and her husband bought a bar and restaurant business
on the pier at Ponta de Sol. Her son Simon was born in Jersey. He
recalls how difficult it was for him moving to Madeira, not being
fluent in Portuguese.
Portugal joined the European Union money came in to the island to
improve its infrastructure, which saw the building of new roads
and a network of tunnels and bridges through mountains and over
steep ravines. A journey which once took eight hours now takes under
emigrants have returned to their villages or to Funchal and built
new homes, often reflecting the architecture of the countries they
lived in throughout their working lives.
is the island’s only significant industry, with the majority
of the hotels situated in the Lido area of Funchal. It’s a
regular port of call for cruise ships. As a holiday destination
it attracts visitors interested in the island’s beautiful
gardens, its flora and fauna.
visitors are keen on exploring the Levada walks, a network of irrigation
channels which bring water from the mountains down to the lower
the island’s 255,000 people live in capital town Funchal.
Crime is relatively low, and it claims to be one of the safest holiday
destinations in Europe. But in spite of assurances to the contrary
there are beggars on the streets. The island has developed its own
problems with immigrant workers.
past fifteen years have seen a spectacular growth in building projects
in the island, with workers coming from Eastern Europe and North
Africa to fill the demand in the building trade. As building projects
have slowed down, the demand has decreased, and some workers have
found themselves without jobs and nowhere to live. It has resulted
in a rise of racial tension between Madeirans and the immigrant
workers. Drugs are a problem, contributing to the rise in petty
crime in the town.
Madeirans emigrate it’s clear they are interested in working
hard to earn enough money to return to live in their island, and
so are less concerned with integrating into the society of their
host employers. Language is the first and the hardest barrier to
overcome for people when they emigrate. Listen
to these clips.
of the BBC Radio Jersey ‘Voices’ project aims to help
people for whom English is a second language improve their English
language skills. We are working in Jersey with Jersey ACET tutors
on a Saturday afternoon at St Paul's Community Centre. Many of the
students are from Madeira.
more info about the ACET language courses click here.
an improved economy there are fewer people leaving the island to
work abroad, but the chance to earn a higher wage in another country
is still an attraction. Some are keen to combine the experience
of something new with the opportunity to learn English, and continue
to come to Jersey, but in far fewer numbers than in the past. There
are moves to promote cultural exchange between the two islands,
with a visit to Jersey by Madeiran musicians in the pipeline.
is an important part of all our lives - in Madeira there’s
a saying that people think about what to have for lunch before they’ve
eaten breakfast. Rising majestically out of the Atlantic, fish is
an important part of the local diet, and Funchal has a colourful
fish market. Tuna and black scabbard fish (Espada) are particularly
plentiful. The black scabbard fish is unique to the waters around
Madeira. Salt cod (Bacalhau) served with Milho (Fried corn meal)
is also a popular Portuguese staple.
are proud of their culture, rooted as it is in the heart of village
life. Family is an all important part of this culture, and respect
for parents and relatives is central to their way of life. Tiago
Pita is fourteen. In a couple of weeks members of his family will
be returning to Madeira to celebrate his grandparents sixtieth wedding
anniversary. Tiago would like to visit Jersey to see where his relatives
live and work. Listen
Village life in Madeira is changing, cultivating the terraced fields
is hard back breaking work. As many people emigrate to find more
lucrative employment the once carefully tended terraces are becoming
Clark is an Englishman who lived in Jersey for more than forty years.
He’s swapped life in one island for another, and moved to
a village in Madeira. Sao Vicente is on Madiera’s north coast.
John enjoys the simple way of life. Listen
to John Clark. Ask anyone in the village where the Englishman
lives and they’ll tell you.
can hear the ‘Voices’ of the people we met in Madeira
on BBC Radio Jersey’s breakfast programme – Jersey Today
all next week after 8am.