Team December 2016 has just started their Study Period. However, they are not missing any chance of making their time in the school valuable to themselves and to others. During their pre-course, they have initiated two charitable projects, one taking place in Spain, and one taking place in Mexico. Here, Marina from Team December 2016 is telling us the story of Connecting Cultures, the project which took place in Spain.
Connecting Cultures took place in the small town of Cabra, Spain last Christmas. The project had two main purposes: to provide cheap toys for the children living in Cabra, and to give an opportunity for the people in the same town to donate food for a good cause. The project has been entirely initiated and executed by members of December 2016 Fighting with the Poor Team.
The idea of the project was born in May last year, when my team was during the pre-course period of the program. Alex, a rather unconventional team mate of mine, was working as a clothes collector. So he was collecting second hand clothes from donation containers around Norway. What surprised him was that, very often, he would find toys in the containers. Very good toys for that matter. The kid inside Alex is still very much alive, and he couldn’t bear the thought of simply throwing them away (only clothes and shoes from the containers can be further sold, the donated toys are usually recycled into construction materials). During the long hours driving on his route, Alex decided he should do something nice for the people of his home town, Cabra, from Spain. And not only for Cabra. He came up with a plan to make a Christmas market and ask his townsmen for one kilo of food in exchange for a toy. Why food and what to do with it? Well, that’s another story.
Spain has played a role in the initiation of the Western Sahara conflict. And the Spanish people are aware of the problem, Alex being Spanish, as I’ve mentioned before. There are NGOs which help with food and other supplies. Alex thought: why not collect food for the people in Western Sahara and brush up the people’s awareness on the topic? Thus the plan was born.
In December, after several months collecting toys, me, Alex, and Lelde (our team leader), drove from Norway to the South of Spain. We set the market in the center of Cabra for two weeks before Christmas. To bring more fully the spirit of a Christmas market to the south, where this tradition is not so popular, we also prepared gingerbread cookies and hot wine. It was funny to see the people react to the hot wine, which they are not used to.
The people in Cabra responded unexpectedly well to our little Christmas project. Some of them donated generously, without even taking anything in exchange. The kids reacted as expected: crawling all over the tables, playing with the toys, screaming, and jumping around. At the end of the market we had over 650 kg of food, which was either donated, either received in the exchange of toys. The food was donated to Asociación Cordobesa de Amistad con los Niños Y Niñas Saharauis (The Cordoba Association of Friendship with the Saharaui Children)
A big THANK YOU to all who helped this project become a reality, and to all the people who contributed!
Marina – Team December 2016