Our friend Meg Robinson has translated this great article made by For Jordi Jofré Neyra for GEA PHOTOWORDS:
La Transpirenaica Social y Solidaria (TSS) is an initiative promoted by the Fundación Formació i Treball (FIT) who fight to promote social inclusion. They have just completed their second ‘expedition,’ a journey of over 800 km through the Pyrenees, with the intention of making their voice heard, and to make known many testimonials of the stories of young people at risk. Also they are drawing attention to the work of different institutions related to social work, and the generous collaboration of anonymous people who have joined the project. Surely herein lies the originality and strength of the TSS: it is a meeting place of different realities, needs and concerns, where walking from refuge to refuge the hope is to help transform the society in which we live.
Not long ago, in certain parts of India, the expression was used “he/she has crossed seven seas. This referred to a relative, friend or acquaintance who had emigrated to a distant country. It didn’t matter if was England or Canada; the fact was that that person was no longer in the village or in the city, and that their life had changed completely.
So this is what Mohit Chandel, one of the protagonists of the TSS tells us. Born 22 years ago in the North of India, aged 17, his father decided to go and live with him to Barcelona. Compared to others, and thanks to the support of his family, he has not suffered the economic hardship that thousands of migrants experience today. On the other hand, he has had to deal with the language barrier, loneliness, and a culture that was alien, somewhat incomprehensible and sometimes intolerant.
Very close to the refuge( hostal) at Conangles, beside the river Noguera Ribagorzana, he tells us this, and how he went to Casal dels Infants del Raval in Barcelona to learn Spanish and, more importantly, to begin to understand and be understood. From there he has worked as a volunteer in different organizations in Spain, France and India. He speaks several languages and has travelled widely.
He continues to study but feels the has come time to work and he feels ready for it. During the TSS he has acted as coordinator for some of the stages, this has given him the opportunity to relate to people in different walks of life, and has helped him develop skills enabling him to handle responsibilities with greater ease. He is a born dreamer who before imagined many scenarios ( he’s an amateur actor) and now can’t conceive of a future away from the mountains (those here, or far away).
Shahid Ashraf is another other of the ‘chicos’ of the TSS. He was born born in Kashmir and, aged 17 came to Barcelona where he had to pretend to be a man because of the ‘circumstances.’ After almost one year in a minors’ center, where he learned Spanish and military(?)marches, he was moved to a ‘supervised’ apartment.
When we spoke with him, he often made reference to his deceased father. He explained he has just finished the ESO and that he is now finishing a training cycle of intermediate level. He is, without doubt, a fighter. Proof of this is how he is gradually progressing in his capacity to overcome obstacles in sport.
In less than six months of training he has managed to complete a marathon within an acceptable time, and during the trek in the Pyrenees, as if the kilometers of the footpaths of main trek trip were not enough, he has used of the rest periods to climb peaks that were not on the agenda. The Foundation Exit, one of the institutions that collaborates with the TSS, has been a turning point in his life he tells us.
“Thanks to them I knew how to tackle what was in front of me.’ He gives the impression that one of the achievements of the different projects that they have experienced during the Transpirenaica Social is that these young people have learned how to look at and plan their lives with a little more focus ahead of the present moment, making decisions in a more calm way facing their futures with better planning.
At least that is the conclusion that comes to mind one morning when we had breakfast with them, while we studying the map of that stage of the day…
Mohit and Shahid are the protagonists of the TSS because they have completed 800 km of the GR11 in six weeks. Nevertheless, many others took part, each one with their rucksack and a different history. Polina, Mamadou, Carmelo, Estefanía, Ibra … this summer they have all had experiences in the mountains that, with luck, will serve to help them deal with their future challenges.
Along with them have walked representatives of different social institutions (apart from the already mentioned ones: CEAAL, RELATS Centers Sant Jaume, Foundation Marianao, the minors’ Center of the Basque Country, Doctors without Borders, Intermon Oxfam and others including Country house Loyola). Also, there were joined by teachers, engineers, journalists, nuns, bakers , mayors, mountaineers, the owners of the refuges and an endless number of anonymous people have contributed to the TSS in its has second year.
And as backdrop to this adventure, the Pyrenees, with its peaks , valleys, waterfalls and glaciers, seems a place a little simpler to reflect on the ways that lead to the social inclusion.
Jordi Jofré Neyra es periodista y fotógrafo. Desarrolla su actividad profesional como freelance y está especializado en innovación social y turismo. @JordiJofreNeyra – www.jordijofre.com.