Joana Jesus

Resilience is something that defines Joana, above all. She’s even got the word tattooed on the back of her neck (resiliência). Being a true Farense (inhabitant of Faro) is a responsibility that she takes seriously, so she divides her time between teaching children and young people about the Peanuts lifestyle, doing marketing work for her clients, and working in the communication team of Faro2027.

Who is Joana Jesus?

I’m a person who likes meeting and helping other people. I’m very resilient, a girl power, a fighter. I’ve traveled to 30 countries, but I always come back home. It was just one time that I got to live abroad – in Latvia – for 6 months. In Faro, the lifestyle is smooth, so it makes it a good place to live and work. 

When I go somewhere, I like to say that I’m from Algarve, I’m Farense! Here, the opportunities are few, but despite this, we love living in this place. Doing this is not easy, yet we fight for what we want. Like I did. I’m doing my thing here and I didn’t need to go somewhere else to do it. I go with the flow, I say “yes!” to most of the challenges that arise, and everything comes into place. It’s like a snowball effect – one thing attracts another.

How is it working for Faro2027?

Faro2027 is a big thing for me. Diogo Simão heard about my Peanuts project and said “This girl has to be in the communication team”, and that’s how it started. I’ve been part of the team for one year and I work with a lot of people, including Isadora Justo, our coordinator. She really inspires me, and I appreciate that not only she teaches me a lot, but likes to learn with me too.  

One day I might be working for Peanuts and my clients, and the other I’d be with the team, working all day long for Faro2027. When we went to Lisbon to submit the application for the European Capital of Culture, and I saw all the people inside the building, I started crying, because it was really powerful. It’s a project with really big potential, but I feel that people from Faro and Algarve don’t realize it yet.

Why should Faro win the title of European Capital of Culture?

We have a lot of problems, that’s why we need to be the capital of culture. It’s not about what we already have, it’s about what we could have. We need the money that comes along with the title in order to develop our city. Everybody is like “Ok, what does this city have to deserve the title of European Capital of Culture?”, but the purpose is not that. The purpose is to receive the money and solve the problems that we face daily as a community. 

I don’t look at things in my city, I look at people. I see my 17-year-old sister and I want things to be easier for her when she’ll be my age. Creating opportunities for young people in Faro is a thing that I’m working on because I don’t want to see her having to go away for that. 

How did you come up with Peanuts?

I was a Marketing Director in a company, and when the pandemic started, I had to stay at home. Peanuts was the name I gave to a project I had to do for university. At the time, I didn’t give it a lot of importance, but then, the need to create something became stronger each day. And so, I decided to do a project about being creative and saving money. These are 2 things that I’m really good at. And that’s how Peanuts was born. 

I go to schools and hold speeches to children and young people to inspire them to be active people in the community. The topics are saving money, sustainability, traveling, making a living on your own. When I show them the countries that I visited, they are like “Oh, I want to go too!”, and in this way, I make them understand it is about work. My parents didn’t give me money. At one point, I had 5 jobs at the same time and paid for my university studies. I share this with children and young people. 

There’s this exercise that I do with children: I give them a peanut and ask them – “If you couldn’t eat this peanut, what would you do with it?”. In this way, I challenge their creativity, and they come up with amazing answers, like “I will put it in a box to remind me of this project” or “I will plant it”. Another exercise is inspired by a TV show, called The Price is Right. For example, I bring a carton of milk in front of them and ask “What is the right price for this carton of milk?”. This is to make them aware of the prices when they go grocery shopping.

You have around 11K followers on Instagram ( How do you manage this?

I was scared of this at first. When you know that 11 thousand people see your work, it can be scary. But it’s all peace and love because the people that follow me are like me. I haven’t received any bad messages so far.

What would you like to do when you grow up?

When I was little, I wanted to work in a supermarket, as a cashier. Then, I took up dancing and thought I’d become a hip-hop dancer, but I realized that it would be a great challenge to do that, at least in Portugal. 

Finally, I decided to study Marketing, because I like people, and the creativity that I got from my father helped me do things differently and always come up with new ideas, but I never imagined I’ll be developing my very own projects. I’m doing what I love in my city and this makes me very happy. 

What is the first thing on your mind when you think about Faro?

Slow living.

What would be the soundtrack of your life story?

Don’t worry, be happy – Bobby McFerrin.

What is the place in Faro you are most connected to? Why?

For 10 years, I volunteered as a girl guide and there’s this place in Faro where the girls and I would go camping. We did projects for the community and I think that’s one of the things that determined me to create the concept of Peanuts lifestyle. Clube de Faro is also a special place for me, since my father spends there most of his days, working on his art.

© Photos by Beatrice Dragusanu