Beatriz, Marta or Fernando are users of the Santa Cruz Municipal Reception Center (CMA) and are some of those who, yesterday, were encouraged to tell their story out loud at the opening of the exhibition in which they, but also other users They tell how they see themselves and how they would like society to see them.
Precisely, that they are seen, is one of the objectives of the exhibition inaugurated yesterday in the Paseo de Las Tinajas, in the Rambla de Santa Cruz, on the occasion of the celebration of the International Day of the Homeless, which is commemorated next Friday. The mayor of the capital, José Manuel Bermúdez, and the councilor for Social Action, Rosario González, accompanied the users who attended the inauguration, in which a manifesto was read advocating for this change of perspective, away from stigmas. “We should take into account, become aware, that our lives can change overnight, in an instant, and we can go from having everything to having nothing,” reflected the councilor. For his part, González highlighted “the importance and essentiality of networking to directly or indirectly attend to the homeless.”
A network that allowed Beatriz, at almost 78 years old, to find a place to take refuge after being homeless because she could not pay the rent. “I’ve been in the shelter for two years and now that they’ve granted me a non-contributory pension, I’m thinking of becoming independent,” she says with a smile. Like the other users, he appreciates the work and attention of the hostel staff. Beatriz earned 190 euros and had to pay rent of 250. She has been in Spain since 2005. She came from Cuba with her husband, and when she became a widow, her pension did not give her enough to live on. She tried to do it in Cuba, but there “things are worse than here,” and she turned back.
Marta, who read the collective manifesto, is half the age of Beatriz. At 40, she knows what it’s like to live on the street, where she got to in the middle of a pandemic. “The help I received ran out and I saw myself on the street. I slept under a bridge throughout the confinement, bathing with jugs of water, enduring the cold, the rain and the gaze of the people”. In the shelter she has found the support she needed. “Now I am in a savings plan to get a flat and waiting for a gallbladder operation, which complements the liver and pancreas that I have already had. I’ve been waiting five years.” Then it will be time to look for a job.
Fernando is the youngest. At 30 years old and with a disability, he is loquacious when it comes to telling what his life is like now. “I am from the Peninsula, but I have been here for four years. I came because my mother is from here”. He indicates that disagreements with his family led him to move away and he ended up on the street. “I slept in the open a couple of times and it’s something I don’t wish on anyone,” he confesses. Now, already in a flat in the hostel, a job is the goal.