Alioume spent eight days in a boat. He left from Senegal and arrived at the port of Los Cristianos a year ago. Then he was 16 years old and he arrived in Tenerife with 67 other people, in a journey that he defines as “very hard”. He lives with a “very good” host family that is giving him the opportunity that his native country could not offer him. Needs that in Abeldilah’s case become a matter of life and death. At the age of 32, almost one year ago he got into a boat from Morocco to Spain. In his case, the medical attention that the Spanish health care can provide is behind a trip that almost cost him his life. Suffering from liver disease, in his country, his doctor did not want to grant him a visa to legally enter Spain in search of help that he could not obtain in his country. “I arrived with a very swollen belly and they took me straight to the hospital. There they told me that the only solution was transplantation ”, he explains in perfectly understandable Spanish. He even has resignation that they came to admit him recently. “They had put me on the waiting list and they told me that there was a liver for me, but in the end it couldn’t be, and they released me again.” Keep waiting.
These are just two of the stories that accompany the students who have participated in the latest edition of the Get to know Santa Cruz and improve your Spanish course, an initiative developed by the Municipal Institute of Social Care (IMAS) that enables foreign residents to the municipality have access, free of charge, to a 70-hour course whose main objective is to learn the Spanish language, while learning the main characteristics of the capital. Yesterday, the councilor for Social Action, Rosario González, came to give them their accrediting diplomas.
Fatima was there, the only woman, and the course instructors have orally evaluated her because, when she came to the course a few weeks ago, she could neither read nor write. When he goes out to collect his diploma, the whole class applauds him heartily. He has won over his peers with his effort. He tells that he has been in Tenerife for five years. She came from Morocco, alone, by plane, and it has not been until now that she has been encouraged to learn Spanish. “I’m alone, I don’t have a family here, and I don’t work either,” she explains. He would love to know more Spanish and thus find a job.
Zhan is the counterpoint of the class. Of Russian origin, she has been in Spain for two years, seven months in Tenerife. “I was looking for a warmer place,” he says, smiling. He speaks fluently about what he likes about the Island, especially having the sea close by and also that he can enjoy the sun and heat almost all year round, without forgetting the microclimates, which he says he also likes. He is studying programming, and hopes to start the second year shortly in which he levels up to learn more Spanish.
Modibo, 18 years old, got on a boat more than a year ago. He spent four “very hard” days at sea, arrived in Gran Canaria and now lives in Santa Cruz. He is looking for a future, a job, and to be able to help his family, with whom he speaks almost daily through wasap. Ali, 23, is in the same situation, although in his case, he is waiting to be able to get his papers to continue his trip to the Peninsula. Mohamed’s journey has been somewhat longer. He arrived in Tenerife by boat, after spending six days at sea, but left Sierra Leone more than two years ago. It passed through Ghana, Mali, Algeria until it reached Morocco. He stayed there for two years until he managed to embark six months ago. Like everyone else, looking for a better life is what prompted him to start a journey that, together with his classmates, may now have an end.
Guacimara, Yolanda and Clementina are the monitors that have accompanied nine students in their learning. They appreciate the enthusiasm and enthusiasm with which the classes that began at the beginning of October have been welcomed. “They help with homework, they correct each other, there is a very good atmosphere.” And that is precisely one of the objectives of the course.
As Councilor Rosario González explains, this type of initiative “is an opportunity for foreigners who are registered in Santa Cruz and are unemployed to know more about the place where they live, while improving their language skills” , and adds that, “without a doubt, these participatory workshops specially adapted to the participants try to encourage their integration so that they feel much closer to our customs and idiosyncrasies.”
González congratulated the students for their effort and pointed out that “the City Council will continue to support this type of initiative that we believe is essential to promote integration, coexistence and community, a path in which they will find us by their side.”
González explained to DIARIO DE AVISOS that “with this course they not only learn Spanish, they also put a lot of focus on Santa Cruz, on learning about the culture, the Canarian speech modality, and also visiting areas of the municipality. We want them to know where they are, to connect, to see the network of social resources as allies. It is a way of preventing ghettos or confrontations, because sometimes they have the feeling that they are not welcome, and this helps them not to feel that way ”.
To attend this basic Spanish course it is necessary to be registered in Santa Cruz, and to be unemployed. Students who come from social projects have preference. The technicians of this project explain that the profile of students has changed in the last year, predominantly that of people who have arrived in the Islands by boat. Initially, the course was aimed at profiles who had been in Santa Cruz for a longer time.