Daoud is a name of Arabic origin that, translated into Spanish, is David and this means “dear”. This is how he feels since he arrived in the Canary Islands at the age of 16, a land that has always welcomed him and to which he feels proud to belong.
Daoud Rafya is a Berber, from Ouarzazate, a city in southwestern Morocco, near the Atlas Mountains and where, he presumes, “many famous films have been shot” as it has one of the largest film studios in the world. Since The Jewel of the Nileuntil Gladiator, starwars, The Mummy either Asterix and Obelixare just a few examples.
In 2007, this second son of twelve siblings (six women and six men) made an important decision for his life and his future. He didn’t want to study and he didn’t like working in the gardens, like his parents, who are farmers and grow henna and watermelons. He wanted to do it on his own, whatever he chose, so one night he decided to leave home given the possibility of traveling to the islands in a small boat. He did it in silence, without saying anything to his family “because he did not want to put fear in his mother’s body.” Only his friends and a very close uncle knew of the risk he was going to take.
He was aware of the possible consequences but he didn’t care since he had been thinking about it for a long time. “He was 15 years old and more mature than a boy of that age, that’s why I don’t regret a decision I made on my own,” he confesses.
In order to raise the money for the trip – at that time it cost 600 euros – he worked for six months in Dajla, in the Sahara, doing “everything he could”.
He arrived in Gran Canaria and after two days he notified his family. He and his travel companions – all unaccompanied migrant minors – were taken to a center for a week until they transferred him to Tenerife, to the La Esperanza home school. There he learned Spanish and received training in building maintenance, gardening and hairdressing.
When he turned 18, he had to leave the center, as established by law. That process was a bit difficult “because not everything is beautiful or as you thought, but you always have to stay with the positive.”
There were nights when he had no safe place to sleep or food to eat and it was not easy for him to get the papers. It was a nun who helped him and to whom he is “eternally grateful”.
“If you don’t have support, the hardest part for anyone who migrates to another country is integration,” he says. In his case, he was lucky. One of the people he ran into along the way, by chance, was the current mayor of La Laguna, Luis Yeray Gutiérrez, when he did not hold any political office and was still a student. “He was always an example for me, because he studied. He advised me and always supported me a lot, ”he emphasizes, although there were also other people.
Daoud started working at Cáritas, in Ofra, helping elderly people but without receiving a salary. The help was reciprocal. His first job with a contract was doing garden maintenance in various urbanizations, the initial kick to start interacting with other people and get a pre-contract, necessary to obtain the residence and work permit that would allow him to stay in the Canary Islands. And with a lot of effort and not without difficulties, he succeeded.
Since 2017 he has had a permanent job as a cleaning operator in the Bajamar area and has decided to take a step into politics, which has always interested him because he has a “critical” mentality. Of course, in Spain, because in his country it is “different”, he clarifies.
He does not hide that he did so motivated in large part by the example of Luis Yeray. “He is a very close and humble person, with whom we always talked about politics and people who were in politics,” he says. Also for the values of a party that supports foreigners, regardless of their country of origin.
Until April of this year, he was one more member of the PSOE in La Laguna, a city in which he would always like to live, who collaborated in whatever was necessary until Luis Yeray, when he was re-elected secretary of the local group, offered him the secretariat of Migratory Policies. It is the first time that a person of Berber origin is part of the executive of a political party in the Canary Islands.
Daoud quickly started working in this field and made an innovative proposal to the party that was accepted, based on his own experience. If there are no last minute hiccups, it will be launched shortly.
It is an office to inform, advise and offer legal support to foreigners who arrive in the municipality. In principle, it is two days a week and you can combine it with your work without any problems.
“There was a time when I would have needed this type of advice, especially guidance on the legal aspect,” he says.
He has two fellow lawyers who advise him and he, who refused to study as a teenager, is learning the laws of immigration and its details “to be able to give the boys who arrive all the information they need.”
When people tell him he’s been lucky, he denies it. Everything has been thanks to his courage, perseverance and “to the desire that each one puts into it”, he underlines.
He is not afraid that this aid will be a ‘call effect’ because “not everything is as easy and simple as they paint it” and he has conveyed it to his brothers when they suggested their intention to try his luck in the Canary Islands. “I advise them to continue studying there,” he says.
Unfortunately, he knows many compatriots who have had to return “and that is difficult because you are a foreigner there and here.” He even specifies that “there are studies that prove that 80% of those who return to Morocco feel that way.”
At 31 years old, Daoud defends his Berber origin, “different from Moroccan”, but if they ask him about his identity he says that “he feels like a Canarian”. Here he would like to form his family. He speaks Spanish, French, Arabic and Berber “two different languages” -he clarifies- each one with its own alphabet and a different pronunciation, and he “botches” Swedish.
Daoud is one of those people who take ant steps. He prefers not to think long-term or make big plans for the future. When asked if he would like to continue advancing and projecting himself politically, he answers: “We are going to work on this project, which has not yet started and the details are being finalized, we will see later.” For now, he continues to learn and lead by example, the best life lesson for young people who, like him, seek to forge their own future.