At 14 months of age, Maria contracted polio, leaving her with serious physical sequelae that worsen over time. Today, she can no longer walk and needs the help of her two crutches to stay on her feet. Her life has not been easy, but nothing compared to the torment she and her partner Carlos have been subjected to in recent times.
Maria at the Figueres Courthouse. She received a letter informing her that a debt she had with the Bank had expired. This is good news that Maria immediately shares with the people in the waiting room, since she can now process the Dation in Payment.
Maria along with members of the PAPH ask to see the bank director of the Bankia branch.
Maria delivers the Dation in payment document to the director of the Bankia branch in Figueres.
Maria cries with joy after having participated in the arrest of an eviction.
Maria, 56 years old, was born in San Roque (Cádiz) but has been living in Figueres since she was very young. Sick with polio since the age of 14 months.
Maria signing an appeal to the court to temporarily stop her eviction.
Maria, along with other members of PAP+H, accompanies Karima to the Mossos d'Escuadra to file a complaint against Bankia for attempted fraud.
Karima is the personified image of courage, strength and the struggle for survival. For 8 months Karima and her family did not receive any kind of income and her situation got worse day by day to the point that her children almost died of hunger.
Karima in her husband's care. Mohamed has been diagnosed with a Personality Disorder for over 10 years, he is aggressive and violent.
Karima claiming her rights in front of the Figueres Town Hall. Karima's claim lasted two months and her action was supported for a long time by other people at risk of social exclusion.
Karima delivering the Dation in Payment document to the director of the Caja Madrid branch in Figueras.
Karima serves as a translator for her friend Nadjat.
With the crisis, food banks are serving more and more citizens while budgets are being cut. This is not the first time Karima has encountered empty shelves.
Karim lives on the eighth floor with his family near the gypsy neighborhood. A conflict zone between communities and not very safe.
Karim has three small children and she learned last week that she is pregnant again.
Karim and his lawyer at the courthouse will try to get an extension to prevent the eviction.
Mohamed has been diagnosed with a Personality Disorder for over 10 years, he is aggressive and violent.
Karim goes once a month to the basements of a parish that provides clothes for the homeless.
A note with claims will be used for the next demonstration. Abuse against the people. Negligence of the city council. Threats against children. Abuse of power. Violation of children's rights. Neglect of social services
Moubarak (Buba). The only person who works in Buba's house and has an income is Djibril. Despite having his salary garnished for a debt of 5000 euros to the Treasury, Buba's friend and co-owner of the apartment has to support his wife, his two year old son, his brother, Buba and his brother".
Buba, along with another member of the PAP+H in front of the Ibercaja branch in Girona.
Buba with the director of the branch of Ibercaja, in Gerona. This bank branch has adhered to the code of the Royal Decree of Good Practices to try to help the mortgaged people in social emergency situation.
Buba, together with other members of the PAP+H. in Girona
Buba consulting the deed of the apartment. The bank has auctioned off the house, although to this day and until the eviction comes, he continues to live in it. His lawyer has told him that they have lost the case and that his debt with the bank amounts to 197,000 euros.
MoubaraK (Buba), 35 years old, was born in a small village in the south of Senegal, where life was very precarious and complicated. At the age of 20, he decided to emigrate from his country in search of fortune.
Loli. 52-year-old quadriplegic and altruistic woman, struggles to change the mortgage law.
Loli was the first Dación en Pago case in the Gerona region and now she is in charge of the PAP + H.
Demonstration against the banks of the PAP + H organized by Loli.
A banker smoking during his break pretends not to hear the demands that Loli says aloud to him.
People summoned by the PAP + H to stop an eviction.
Loli arrives at the PAP + H premises where desperate people are already waiting for her at the door.
Manifestation of the PAP + H against the mortgage law.
The struggle not to be evicted.
Figueres, the Catalan capital of the Alt Empordà, was a prosperous city until the economic crisis began. Many immigrants came to live in the city of Dali dazzled by so much work and by the facilities they were given when it came to finding housing. Today everything has changed: both natives and foreigners find themselves without work and in very precarious conditions.
This is the story of some people who once had a job, were able to buy a house and raise a family. Now, without a job and, in most cases, without any economic help, they struggle to survive.
Many of these families have young children that they cannot adequately feed. Social Services makes them wait a long time to refer them back to the Food Distribution Center and in the meantime they don't have anything to feed their children. Also, the Food Bank lacks meat, fish, fruits and vegetables or baby milk, so the children do not meet the basic needs in protein and vitamins for proper growth and development.
These citizens of Figueres, who have been left without any kind of economic resource, cannot pay the rent or mortgage of their home, with the problems that this entails. Nor can they pay water, electricity or gas bills, so they cannot wash, cook or heat themselves in winter.
Many parents cannot take their children to school because they don't have a single snack to give them for breakfast. They can't afford books, much less the various school activities. And, if they get sick, they can't buy the medicines the doctor prescribes. They feel abandoned by the Administration, because when they desperately go to Social Services they feel that their response is nil.
Maria, 56 years old, was born in San Roque (Cádiz) but has been living in Figueres since she was very young. At 14 months of age, she contracted polio, leaving her with serious physical sequelae that worsen over time. Today, he can no longer walk and needs the help of his two crutches to stay on his feet. Her life has not been easy, but nothing compared to the torment that she and her partner Carlos have been subjected to in recent times.
Maria married and had two children, now independent. In 1998 she and her ex-husband bought an apartment with a ramp, adapted for her, and took out a mortgage from Bancaja. Some time later, the couple decided to separate and he claimed his share of the apartment. Maria takes out a second mortgage to pay him off and thus end their marriage. The apartment could only be put in her name, as the costs of including her children in the deed were too high.
Almost 9 years ago, María and Carlos (from Vilanova i la Geltrú, Barcelona), met and decided to start a life together. Carlos (47 years old) leaves his job in the company where he had been working for 25 years and comes to Figueres to live with Maria. For some years the family economy was good, since both worked and could pay the mortgage of the apartment and the loan contracted.
Carlos came to Figueres with a job in Portbou, in a carpentry shop (he has always worked as a carpenter) and for a while he was splicing jobs. At one point, he had to resort to unemployment and exhausted the two years of unemployment benefit. Shortly afterwards he found new jobs but always sporadic. Until a few weeks ago he only received a grant from the INEM of 426 euros for being over 45 years old and having family responsibilities (he has a daughter from his previous marriage). As a result of the problems with his job, Carlos fell into a severe depression and Mary was forced to take out two more loans.
Currently Carlos has stopped the help of the INEM to collect again the unemployment benefit for 4 months, since he has managed to add the necessary days of contributions. Maria, despite having a good job and a good salary, has her payroll seized. This summer, physically and psychologically exhausted, she decides to take early retirement and dedicate her time to the PAP+H (Platform of People Affected by Poverty and Mortgages). Her situation is critical. Between the two payments, she only has about 40 euros left to eat.
They have been unable to pay the mortgage on the apartment for over a year. Maria filled out the papers for the Dación en Pago but the foreclosure process was stopped for a while because she asked for a court-appointed lawyer and was denied. Maria, who was foreclosed on, totally ruined and with a debt of 160,000 euros, could not afford a private legal professional, so she appealed the sentence.
A few days later, he received a letter in response to the request of the Dación en Pago and the Social Rent, telling him that he could not process it because of the seizure he had of almost 10,000 euros. However, two months later, he received another letter from the Court informing him that the debt he had with the Bank had expired. Today, now free of this heavy burden and in the company of members of the PAP+H, he was finally able to deliver the papers of the Dación en Pago to the Bancaja office in Figueres.
Maria only asks the bank to keep the house, forgive the debt and be able to live on the rent. Leaving her without her apartment would be like locking her up in a prison, as it is very difficult to find suitable housing and, in her current precarious economic situation, impossible.
Karima is the embodiment of courage, strength and the struggle for survival. It could be said that it is the precursor of the PAP (Platform Affected by Poverty) movement (1) of Figueres. Last April, her economic situation was so desperate that it occurred to her to demonstrate in front of the Consistory of Figueres to claim her rights and those of her children. Supported and accompanied by Rosa Mª (a volunteer from the Alter Orbis association (2) in Figueres and a social worker by profession), she made a banner and a vest to demand her rights and she stood daily and untiringly in front of the Town Hall. Their action lasted two months and was supported and followed for many more months by other people at risk of social exclusion.
Karima has 3 children (two boys of 9 and 6 years old and a girl of a little more than 1 year old). Her husband Mohamed has been diagnosed with a Personality Disorder for more than 10 years and is aggressive and violent. The medication he takes silences him and causes countless side effects, making him unable to work and to help Karima care for her children. Karima is afraid of her husband and never leaves her children alone with him. Mohamed has a recognized disability of 45%, insufficient to receive a pension, even though he has contributed for more than 15 years in Spain. "He is not aware of his problem or of the real family situation. He lives in his own world, sleeping all day, crying and saying incoherent things," says his wife. Karima has never worked since she has always had to take care of her husband and children and has no one to help her.
When Mohamed was admitted to the psychiatric service of the Hospital de Sta. Caterina in Girona for a period of more than 2 months, Karima was recommended to go see Rosa Mª from the association Alter Orbis, who "helped me a lot". The family was receiving the PIRMI (Minimum Insertion Income) (3) but as a result of the 1000 euro bonus given to them by the Generalitat de Catalunya for the birth of their daughter, they stopped receiving it. The money was used to pay Mohamed's lawyer for a legal problem he had previously.
For 8 months Karima and her family did not receive any kind of income and their situation got worse day by day to the point that "my children almost died of hunger". Rosa Mª, from the association Alter Orbis in Figueres, sent a letter to the Síndic de Greuges de Catalunya (4) denouncing Karima's precarious situation. After studying her case, and thanks to the help of Rosa Mª and the demonstrations of both women in front of Figueres Town Hall, the family was able to perceive the PIRMI again. With the 600 euros that she charges, Karima feels a little more comfortable because she can buy meat, fish and vegetables for her children. However, her odyssey has only just begun. Not only can not pay the bills for water and electricity but owes about 12 months of mortgage to Bankia, an entity which in June delivered the document of the Dation in Payment, accompanied by members of the PAP + H.
Soon after, Bankia called them. Mohamed came in, feeling a little better at the time, and they made him sign a Dation in Payment document that they had drafted in the first person. Mohamed did not read the document, which said that despite having asked for the Dación en Pago, the debt was not cancelled and the marriage would have to assume a new appraisal of the rest of the expenses that would arise. Fortunately, Karima's signature was also required, since the mortgage is also in her name. After carefully reading the document, Karima went to Loli, a volunteer member of PAP+H, who indicated that she should not sign. On October 15, PAP+H, on behalf of Karima, denounced Bankia for an "attempted fraud". The Dation in Payment Document was not signed by Karima, so it was not processed. Even so, the entity wants the case to be investigated.
MoubaraK (Buba), 35 years old, was born in a small village in the south of Senegal, where life was very precarious and complicated. At the age of 20, he decided to emigrate from his country in search of fortune. His goal was to arrive in France, because of his familiarity with the language, but destiny did not want to let him arrive. In 1997 he arrived in Spain clandestinely, crossing the desert to Melilla. There he was welcomed by the Red Cross. They arranged his papers in Cullera (Valencia) and paid for his transport to Figueres (Gerona), where he had friends. For a while, she stayed at the house of one of them and found work in Vilavertran, in the countryside. Later, she worked in the supermarket "La Jonquera" (La Jonquera) for 9 years. Buba learned Spanish to better integrate into society. She is currently applying for Spanish nationality to be able to go to France to work, so for the moment she does not plan to return to Senegal.
On successive trips to his country, Buba married and had two children: a 7-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, two children he hardly knows, since they live in Senegal. For years she took care of them by sending them money but now the situation prevents her from supporting them. His wife, who knows about Buba's situation in Spain, asks him to return to his country of origin.
Buba was looking for an apartment to rent. In the course of 6 months he didn't find anything. "The few that were available they didn't want to rent to me because of the color of my skin," says Buba. So, together with Djibril, a friend from Senegal, a colleague and now a relative (he has married the daughter of Buba's older sister), they decided to take out a mortgage and buy an apartment. "A huge mistake", says Buba.
For a few years everything went very well... Both Buba and Djibril had jobs. Buba contributed to Social Security for over 10 years. For 5 years they paid the mortgage on the apartment (some months it was 1075 euros). But Buba lost his job. For a time he was unemployed and then received family assistance from the INEM, about 400 euros. In February, he ran out of money and since then he hasn't been paid anything. He looks for work, but can't find it. And, to get some money, he takes friends in his car. He has applied for the PIRMI (Minimum Income for Insertion: economic aid between 400 and 500 euros given by the Generalitat de Catalunya to people who don't have economic resources and who meet certain requirements so that they can meet the essential needs of life) but, for the moment, he hasn't received an answer. Buba and Djibril asked the bank for a grace period and for 2 years they paid 500 euros per month. At the end of the capital deferment, Ibercaja raised their mortgage to 800 euros. As only one salary was coming into the house and they couldn't afford the payments, they decided to stop paying.
The bank soon auctioned off the apartment, although to this day and until the eviction comes, they continue to live in it. Their lawyer has told them that they have lost the case and that their debt with the bank amounts to 197,000 euros.
On Friday June 29 members of the PAP+H of Figueres, armed with green banners and T-shirts accompanied Buba to deliver the document of Condonation of the Debt to the director of Ibercaja de Girona. This bank branch has adhered to the code of the Royal Decree of Good Practices to try to help people with mortgages in social emergency situations. The director of the office, very correct and apparently calm, made the whole group go to his office where the readings of the petition took place. Buba, feeling supported and safe by the members of PAP+H who advised him, signed the bank document to start the process of the capital gain remission. Today, he is waiting for an answer.
The only person who works in Buba's house and has an income is Djibril. Despite having his salary garnished for a debt of 5000 euros to the Treasury, Buba's friend and co-owner of the apartment has to support his wife, his two-year-old son, his brother, Buba and his brother. They all live in the apartment and, except for Djibril, none of them has a job or income of any kind. "This is hell. We live in fear.
(1) PAP+H (Plataforma de Afectados por la Pobreza y las Hipotecas) in Figueres is a self-help group. Every Tuesday, starting at 7pm, those affected by mortgages and poverty, as well as some people in solidarity, meet at the Can Met in Figueres to present their cases, give each other advice and help each other, thus managing to find the practical and emotional support they so much need.
The Platform for Poverty and fights so that there is no person without food (end the long waits by the Social Services), no underprivileged child (that a work plan is developed according to this social emergency situation), right to housing (Figueres has about 4,000 empty houses, many as a result of evictions). Social rentals within the reach of families with few resources, retroactive payment (that the housing be used to cancel the mortgage debt), and, forgiveness of capital gains (pardon of the debt).
(2) Alter Orbis is a network for the exchange of knowledge and the provision of social services: monitoring, accompaniment, food, clothing... between indigenous people and immigrants. They work with diverse groups: adults, elderly people, women, immigrants and homeless people. Its areas of action are education, training and social environment. They focus on the territory of Figueres and surroundings.
(3) The PIRMI or Minimum Insertion Income is an economic aid between 400 and 500 euros given by the Generalitat de Catalunya to people who do not have economic resources and who meet certain requirements so that they can meet the essential needs of life. As of August 3, 2011, there were changes in the payment of the PIRMI.
If you find a job and that involves a source of income greater than 500 euros, you must notify the Generalitat de Catalunya to stop paying the PIRMI. Otherwise, fraud will be committed. Also, from this date 4521 files were cancelled. 33% correspond to the departure of the beneficiary from the country.
(4) The Síndico de Agravios de Cataluña (officially, in Catalan, Síndic de Greuges de Catalunya) is the name of the Ombudsman of the autonomous community of Catalonia (Spain). It is one of the institutions of the Generalitat of Catalonia and its functions are to protect and defend the rights and freedoms recognized by both the Spanish Constitution and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia. The current trustee, since July 2004, is Rafael Ribó.