Life often takes us down unexpected paths, shaping us through experiences that challenge our worldviews and open up new horizons. This is the case for Tomás Magalhães, whose journey began in England but whose destiny brought him back to his Portuguese roots, where his true mission unfolded.

Born on English soil from Portuguese parents, Tomás grew up in Portugal and graduated in physics, seduced by the great philosophical questions and the desire to teach. Followed by a master's degree in Nanotechnology, which still didn’t satisfy his longing for a direct and immediate impact on people's lives.

It was then that he decided to focus on a new path: social entrepreneurship. His journey towards effective altruism was not just a career change but a profound personal transformation, fueled by witnessing poverty and extreme need in places like India during his travels.

His commitment to effective altruism led him to found the Kolkata Relief organisation, which seeks to maximise the impact of each action by focusing on pragmatic solutions to urgent problems. Tomás and his team work tirelessly to provide direct aid to the communities in need, distributing essential items, establishing community centres, and sharing knowledge with other NGOs.

Kolkata Relief is supported by donations raised through an online platform. Tomás emphasises the importance of monthly donations, even if of lower amounts, which ensure a more predictable and sustainable financial flow, allowing for adequate planning for future needs.


MESH felt solidarity with Kolkata Relief and challenged Tomás to create a line of jewellery related to the association's origins. From this collaboration emerged the Bangla line, paying homage to the Bengali people from the area where the association's seed was born. Bangla is the official language of the Bay of Bengal’s people, where the city of Kolkata now stands. It is a strong and poetic language of a people who carry a nostalgia similar to the Portuguese people. Each piece from this collection will revert into one Relief Kit, this includes: basic shelter, a first aid kit, a mosquito net and a book.

During the pandemic, when travelling wasn’t possible and the association experienced a forced halt, Tomás felt the need to continue impacting society and to use his free time to start a disruptive project - Despolariza. We took the opportunity during our interview to learn more about this project, which has been growing exponentially and counts on special guests including Carlos Fiolhais, Eamonn Butler, Miguel Poiares Maduro, Miguel Milhão and many more.

"I've always been very interested in philosophy and was reading about tribalism and our difficulty in communicating with each other and disagreeing in a friendly manner, so during the pandemic with the bit of free time I had, I thought about starting a blog about this. I started DESPOLARIZA.PT, inspired by a very good American blog called Wait but Why, to talk essentially about polarisation and these issues in a scientific but at the same time light and fun way. By chance, the blog went very well, the first article reached quite a wide audience."

"I haven't had the courage to do a video just by myself talking, I always have a guest. I'm quite creative and a perfectionist. I always have several ideas for videos, to 'depolarize' some subjects and themes, but when I start recording, it seems like I don't like to be just by myself. With the company of other people, it becomes easier."

"If I think I'm going to learn something, it will be interesting for those watching at home, and lastly, ensuring visibility. The idea was just to have a blog where I wrote from time to time, and then I started taking it more seriously. It ends up being a form of entrepreneurship."

"I don't have defined goals. I would like to organise an event solely about polarisation and have experts from all over the world on this subject to speak. The person who is helping me try to make this project happen thinks I'm quite ambitious, but I want to see what I can do. Start participating in protests, talking to people about the subject, and disagreeing positively. Write a book. Become more financially sustainable."

Today, Tomás's legacy is an inspiration to us all, reminding us of the transformative power of commitment and compassion. All of this is proof that, through dedication and the pursuit of the common good, we can truly make the world a better place.



Kolkata Relief