SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, March 19 (EUROPA PRESS) –
Over the last two years, more than 300 residents of the Añaza neighborhood in Santa Cruz de Tenerife have joined the cleaning brigades and community groups of the ‘Living for others’ project, which Visocan has promoted more of 120 actions to improve common spaces and neighborhood ties in two iconic blocks in the area, popularly known as the Blue and Red buildings.
José Rodríguez, project technician and member of the International Cooperation NGO, has indicated that three years ago these two buildings were going through a very complex situation. In March 2021, the regional government, through the public company Visocan, acquired the two blocks to prevent them from being sold to a ‘vulture fund’. The process generated a climate of tension for the residents, who live on a social rental basis, and deteriorated relations within the community.
“When we arrived, we realized that the neighbors did not know each other, they had no relationship with each other. Some did not speak to each other and the problems festered without anyone offering a solution,” Rodríguez explained. It was then that the NGO Cooperación Internacional proposed to Visocan to create a community intervention project. First they listened to all the tenants and then they mediated to resolve “the conflicts”. In addition, they also took their demands into account and promoted their social participation actions.
“We were clear that the protagonists should be the neighbors and that the project had to be horizontal, that is, they had to present the proposals and say where we started working.” This is how ‘Añaza Living for others’ was born in March 2021.
To repair the damage and strengthen ties between the neighbors, the NGO, with the support of VISOCAN, proposed setting up three brigades: one for cleaning, one for gardens and another for painting. Together they have carried out more than 120 actions in just two years.
At first, organizing the residents was not an easy task, because there are 358 homes in total, 179 in the blue building and 179 in the red block. They considered that the best option was to create teams in each of the 16 portals, which they called “motor groups”. So far, they have managed to build eight. Each of them is made up of units of 10 to 15 residents who are in charge of identifying the needs in their portals and looking for solutions. With their actions, according to the technician, they have benefited some 179 families.
It is the residents themselves who detect the needs in their building, propose the initiatives and design the actions. “They collaborate by painting, cleaning the common areas and some are electricians, so they help when there are problems of this type. We have been rescuing the gardens, placing irrigation systems…”, said the coordinator.
Incidents are also passed on to Visocan, which “gets very involved in damage”, paying for repairs, elevator repairs or electrical problems. Rodríguez emphasized that the public company has supported the project from the beginning, despite the fact that in the Canary Islands it was an innovative initiative, since there are not many programs that promote social participation in housing. “His role has been fundamental,” insists the coach.*
For Rodríguez, the “jewel in the crown” of ‘Añaza Living for others’ is the group that they have created with the ‘smallest members of the household’, made up of 40 boys and girls. Through games, they teach them what participation is, how it can be developed and they generate small debates. “The truth is that it has been a complete success because they are going to be the future of this community and, from an early age, we are already sowing the seeds of learning to live together with respect and the importance of dialogue,” explains José Rodríguez.