18 Nov 2009

4th World Mallorca

Taken from a personal account of an early visit to Can Gaza & Can Llarga October 2009 (by Babette Dekker):

Today I visited Can Gaza and the new house Casa Llarga.

 I met Father JAime who is a wonderful person, he couldn´t stop talking about the needy and saying over and over how much he appreciates our help.
 Can Gaza is a very special place.  It is a beautiful finca and there are sheep, chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs, ducks there, which contribute to feeding the 25 to 30 men who live in the house. The men also grow their own vegetables in the growing season. It was founded more than 30 years ago with the donation of the use of the house to Father Jaime Santandreu (a real Padre) for 3 years, and the agreement has been extended and extended right up to today.

The men who inhabit the house share bedrooms and all the facilities. The house itself is kept impeccably, clean and tidy and they all seem contented and happy in their work.  They live totally on the fruits of their own labours on the farm and charitable donations.  The men are all around 50 years of age or over and are all chronically ill and have nothing - no homes, families or work.  Some suffer from dementia, some are crippled, some have irreparable damage to liver, or heart or other organs.  In summary, they are unable to live and work by or for themselves. They apply to the house and if willing to keep clean, help each other and contribute in some way to the household, then they are invited to join the household and stay there for as long as they need or wish to. Some come and go, others stay and die there.
Every day these men make one hot meal and open their doors to up to 100 more hungry homeless and helpless people who come to their door.  The visitors are registered to ensure they are really in need and not eating there more than once a day - the house aims to spread what they have among as many of the needy as possible - this is where the donated additional food and vegetables go.  They also share donated dry foodstuffs, clothing and blankets they receive with other needy people and families who call at the house.  Their life ethic appears to be ‘to share all that they have with other needy people’. 
 They are also very humble. When I asked them, they did not think they needed anything and could not think of anything to ask for.  After much persuasion from me (“What is it that you miss most?”) little by little they started to talk to me, and said things like “well, ...maybe we could use some bleach...... and maybe some stuff to clean with, fregonas....etc” and after they thought about it a while: “..and maybe a little shampoo or soap would be nice to have sometimes”......

They occasionally get given out of date milk that they boil for drinking if it has not gone off. They do not usually get any fresh fruit or fish, or fresh vegetables after the growing season is finished, as they are too expensive.  Their greatest pleasure is when some yoghurt arrives at the house and they can have a little “dessert” - which causes great excitement.  They are all lovely people, very kind, thoughtful, and they make everybody feel very welcome.  All visitors to the house are invited to stay and share their home, their food, and all that they have.

Their current needs: They currently have a good stock of donated warm clothes for this winter, but they could use:
Sanitary products
Vegetables and fish
cleaning items, like soaps, cloths, sweeping brushes etc.
Personal hygiene stuff like soap, shampoo, razors etc.
If they could get them, would love some magdalenas breakfast items other than maria cookies
Fresh Fruit
Yoghurt !!!
The new house is not far from Can Gaza and is called Casa Llarga, it is a ruin and has again been donated to the Padre for 2 years.  The residents of Can Gaza are renovating the house by themselves with a little help now and then from some builders, but there is no money to pay for help so progress is very slow.  Like everything else, everybody does according to their ability to work - many are old, ill and crippled, but like the tortoise in the fairy tale, they believe will get there.  It would be a dream if the house were ready for the winter as it will house 40-50 men, but without help it is not possible. [NB: Mick & Bianca Hadley now working this project and making great progress - see separate blog posts].

They have a plan to have the house habitable in some areas for some men to live there by next week. Marcelo, a very nice man who was a welder (metal worker) showed me around. The ground floor is ready but due to heavy rain and leakage, it has suffered damages , so now they are fixing the roof.

16 Nov 2009

On the move again.

Well, we're on the move again, the day after tomorrow.
I just want to explain to you a little bit about what these journies are like.
I wouldn't want you to think that these trips are pure protocol and that we are like visiting royalty, type Rania of Jordan greeted with big bunches of flowers, coffee tasting and welcome party.
It's not quite like that. Well, we do accept the flowers, have a quick cuppa and if there's a bit of a welcome traditional dance, we don't complain but basically we roll up our sleeves and get down to work straight away.
The work consists of meetings, meetings and meetings. Dicussions, discussions and discussions.
Meetings which last hours and hours and if there is a bit of luck we just might make a little bit of progess.
Discussions which last hours and hours and with even more luck might come to an end earlier than the last one.


We have encountered some construction problems. After having given us permission to continue with the construction of the dining-room the Kebele changed his mind and told the builders to come to a halt. Everytime there is a difference in opinion as to how to procede the kebele orders that the building be stopped. We have discovered too that the kebele and the Edir are not getting on and agree on very little.
When we are there we will be having a meeting with the Kebele and will try to discover what the problem is that exists between these two entities.
As you already know, we plan to provide a nursery for children between one and two years old. This part of the population is extremely vulnerable since breastfeeding is not enough and the "injera" which is available is inadequate to nourish a baby.

To add to all of this, we discover that many more children have been admitted to the school than anticipated. Not only the new two year olds (20) and the new three year olds (30) but an extra 60. We imagine, that on arrival, we will discover children even hanging from the lights.

We have enough land to house the two nursey classes (previously primary classes), the kebele has decided that it doesn't want primary classes on the same site) but we wonder if we will we have enough room for everyone because we now have 91 four year olds..
But we have good news too. Our good friend Barry is coming on this trip to examine the land and to work out if there will enough space to provide for the swelling number of children under our care. He will also take control of discussing any changes with the local builder check out building suppliers etc..
We happily pass on this task to someone with experience in these matters.

Our project "sponsor a child" is now underway. This program has been designed to help parentless children, others who are under the tutelage of neighbours, friends or relatives and others whose parents are ill. I fear that there are many more children in high- risk situations that we had foreseen. During our trip we will visit the families involved in this scheme.

One of these house visits will be particularly difficult. When we visited this home in June, the mum told us that her husband had HIV and that she, herself was frightened to have the test, We explained that if her test was negative she could live fear- free and even if it was positive, there were certain treatments that she could resort too. Unfortunately, she proved to be HIV positive, her husband died, she is bedridden and terminally ill. She has a baby boy and an eight year old little girl. In this case this illness has been terribly cruel.
Our other high-risk children are experiencing similar dramatic situations.
30 primary children who attend state school have received subsidies (from us) to buy uniforms and school materials. Their books do not have to be bought, they are on loan. These children also eat in the Abugida school.
The school is growing and growing.
We have been thinking that perhaps (if we ever manage to finish it) that our school diningroom could be used as a local soup kitchen to help feed children of all ages living in that area. During our meeting with the kebele we will suggest this possibility but the local authorities always have the last word.

The Birhan school in Yeka.

This school continues to have problems. The Edir failed to pay some of the workers and has delayed paying others. We have no intention of putting up with this injustice. During our trip we will be making our conditions very clear. We will not tolerate this policy of not paying or only paying partially the workers in our schools, including those in the most humblest of jobs. We have discovered that they have been threatened with dimissal if they reveal this information or complain about their lot. I assure you that when we get there, the discussion over this issue will go down in history.

We will also visit the kebele to ask if we can build another school. Barry will yet again present his designs and wealth of knowledge.

We will be taking sports equipment, track shoes and teeshirts provided by the Baleares International School for our older students in the Birhan school so that they can begin to practise sports. Next month it will be the Abugida school's turn.
Bye for now.

15 Nov 2009

Saturday , 14th November 2009

WE could never had imagined that there were so many beautiful svelte-like ladies  living on this island and this morning  they were all knocking on the door of the House of Katmandu in Magaluf  for the opening of our DESIGNER CLOTHES SALE  .  Yes, today’s event was a huge success.  The whole team assembled at 10am to put the finishing touches to the displays,  and the final brief was given by Pat and Linda. It was so exciting…at 11am on the dot the first customers arrived and we were off!.  This really was an exclusive occasion as all the ladies were thrilled to be able to purchase garments by the leading fashion houses , Dior, Valentino, Yves St Laurent, Carolina Herrera, Galiano, Versace etc at a fraction of the original price . The WOW factor arrived at the end of the day when the final count came and over  €5.400 was raised !!!!(final amount will be published in local press and on our website www.mediterranea.org.es  ) We would like to thank everybody for all the support we were given , the children that put their pennies from their pocket money into the collection tins ,  the new members and volunteers that have joined MEDITERRANEA  today, and a big round of applause and THANK YOU to the lovely Spanish lady who donated the clothes…..we promise you that every cent will be used to help those in need.
 X Jackie for Mediterranea