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Katia left Peru a long time ago. Although everything in her personal life is already settled, each day she gets to meet different people who migrate from all parts of the world. Her association ‘Movildad Humana’ is a shelter and a second home for those who remain in motion.  

‘When I was younger, my dream was to learn, explore and get out. After graduating from accounting in Peru, a telephone company hired me and I started working there. In the meantime however, my family who lived in Madrid used to tell me a lot of interesting facts about Spain so after a few talks we had together, I became so intensely curious about visiting that new place!’

It didn’t take long for young and freshly-graduated Katia to leave Peru and come to Europe. Although the new place was nothing but exciting, she had to find a job and earn a living. At the beginning Katia took care of children and  worked as a home help. Afterwards she completed a course in real estate and worked on digital technology support platforms. 

‘Here in Galicia, I worked with older people at the beginning. Children and people in general have always been an important part of my life. Although currently I work in a real estate agency, purchasing and selling flats- we still have our association Movildad Humana’.

Soledad and Katia met each other at a bus stop in Galicia. Two foreigners- a Peruwian and an Ecuadorian, were immediately attracted to each other and started talking. Soledad proposed: why don’t we form an association where we could help each other and feel more protected? As simply as it may sound, this is how the Movilidad Humana started.

‘Movilidad Humana’ name comes from the ‘people on the move’ from all over the world. At first there were mainly people from Ecuador but very quickly it turned out we had immigrants from South America, Caribbean, Africa and Europe. There is no other association like this in Galicia so the need to join a migration-concerned group was enorm. Our association was created by women immigrants and dedicated to immigrating women. However,  after a short amount of time we also had to give support to the women’s husband, children, brothers and partners.

At Movilidad Humana, every single woman can come and have an intimate moment of ‘one to one’ conversation. Katia admits that immigrant women need guidance and care. Many of them escape from abuse, domestic violence or shortcomings in life. They are afraid and do not know how to schedule appointments or register the documents.

‘What we do is: we listen to their needs, empathize and try to put ourselves in their place. Then we help them in various ways such as accompanying them with the paper related works, going to the doctor, making arrangements etc. We want to make them feel protected. Our office is like a second home, a major point of reference. A lot of women stay closed in their houses all the time, a lot of women leave their children in different parts of the world. Thanks to the association, they can finally go out to have a coffee and feel a little more sheltered. We are very fortunate to have this big space and be able to tuck everyone in. Movilidad Humana has a lot of people in very different life situations: from men, young boys to separated people or terrific companions. Everyone contributes to the main purpose of the association. We are all people on the move.’

When Katia came to Spain 26 years ago, she was still young with no resigments at all. She came to Madrid, settled, got married and got birth to her two, beautiful daughters. The adaptation process proceeded smoothly. In the past, it was much easier to find a job in Spain. Katia considers herself really lucky because of the fact she got the documentation and was able to ask for the asylum with no problems. Nowadays, getting the proper documents seems to be a whole different story. Over 90% of Katia’s colleagues work with no contract and have no documentation.

‘I used to work with a very nice family as a home care. Nowadays, many people have serious troubles related to home/domestic work. Either they work without the agreement, get underpaid or they suffer from all different kinds of abuse. I believe domestic service (work with seniors,childcare etc.) should be more respected.’

Despite the documentation problems, many people still decide to migrate to Europe. The reason lies mainly in the need for a safe, secure living. Europe holds dozens of opportunities for all kinds of qualifications. Katia admits she would rather stay in Spain and only visit her family in Peru from time to time. 

‘Almost all the people who immigrate want to find a better job, earn a little more money and have a brighter future. That is the reason they decide to stay. By taking care of children here, you can earn more money than as an accountant in Peru.’

So is Ferrol a dream place for immigrants to live in? Potentially yes, but there is still a lot of work to be done. As Katia mentions, this small city is a military zone and that is also why machismo is still present here nowadays. Galician people are rather distrustful and do not give a lot of confidence at the beginning. 

‘If I compare Ferrol with Madrid, Madrid’s people tend to be more open-minded. When I first came here, I saw a bit of rejection and distrust. However, after a while we ended up connecting and integrating with each other. Eventually I would feel supported. Ferrol is the city where people are constantly on the move. In our association, we work with the city council which notices very well what we are achieving. My dreams would be to create more space for integration. For instance: prepare some courses for women immigrants, give them access to the computers, teach them how to write a curriculum, promote different activities for international integration.Ferrol is slowly growing. Opening for differences and multiculturality.’

What makes you happy?

What makes me happy is obviously the fact that my family is fine. 

What would make me very very happy is that all our colleagues who do not have documentation, could finally receive it. This would be a great step forward for both our community as well as the society.