Norwegian Heart

The plight of people being evicted from their homes has touched many hearts, not only here, in Spain, but also further afield; Norway, for example.

We can tell the stories of three women, finding themselves without a roof for their children or elderly parents, but each one of them has one or several ‘guardian angels,’ who have come forward, giving them a roof over their head or putting food on the table; sometimes more. Sometimes they are relations and sometimes they are complete strangers from thousands of kilometres away.

Elena Urbano is 30 who never thought that she would end up without food for her kids nor a roof over their heads, but like hundreds of thousands of Spanish people, it came to pass with them, too. In Elena’s case, it is her grandmother, who from a meagre pension, does the shopping for Elena, once a month, spending around 200 euros on groceries.

Until 2008, Elena was a clerk for a construction-material supplier earning 900 euros a month, but she lost the job. After than she alternated between part-time jobs, as a waitress in a discotheque on a cafe terrace in the summer, but those sources of income dried up, too, which was when she found that she could no longer pay her 250 euro-rent. But she didn’t end up under a bridge because her brother had a half-finished house in Toledo. Neighbours gave her TV, her mother-in-law an old sofa and her Grandmother a 2nd-hand fridge, which she had bought for 100 euros.

And this is a very important detail; almost the prime source of income for many families in Spain are pensioner parents – people who receive 600 euros for themselves and their partner, yet somehow manage to find ‘a little help’ for their children and grandchildren.

Sometimes its a crumple bank note or two passed under the table or slipped into somebody’s pocket without them noticing; “a little something to help with the kids.” And sometimes it’s a huge, old-style pot of steaming food to feed the clan, either around the table or to be carried home.

These amazing people are the generation that struggled through the Hunger Years of the 40’s and 50’s, when meat was a once-in-a-while luxury and not a twice-a-day plate filler.

But the Abuela has an ally; a couple of strangers, Jenny and Asmund, from a place she would be hard put to find on a map; Norway. These Norwegian pensioners of 77 and 80 have a flat in Torrevieja where they spend the winter months. They send 150 euros a month and sometimes 100 euros more, for something for her child, Aaron.

They found out about Elena’s plight thanks to a Norwegian journalist, Hege Moe Eriksen, who did a report in November which was seen by hundreds of thousands of Norwegians, who were horrified to witness how a Spanish woman, her three children and her 87-year-old mother were forcibly evicted from their home by a squad of 50 policemen. It moved the heart of this generous country.

The telephones rang and rang, as people called in to the TV channel, NRK, asking how it could be possibly true and how they could help. One 10-year-old girl, Sunniva, told her grandmother who was watching it with her that they had to help Desiree, the eldest daughter of Azucenca, the evicted woman. Since then, the grandmother has sent 400 euros a month to Azucena.

And this is another important point; before Europeans sent donations to Third-World countries to help the poor; now they send it to the South of Europe. Thousands of families across Spain have lost their homes, their income… their hope. How this diversion of private aid is affecting the 3rd World is the subject of another article.

As for Azucena, she has also received help from nearer afield; a young man offered a house in Toledo, for the time being, for her to live in, with her children and grandmother.

In the meantime, 2013 looks to be worse than the already situation of 2012.

(News: Spain)