We are writing to all of you to tell you about the imperative and improvised work camp that was begun in Pedro Abad, the afternoon-night of Sunday, June 14 and will continue until July 31, with Moroccan youth formerly in protected status. It has happened “in the blink of an eye.”

We shouldn’t fail to mention that the boys arrived at our house on the feast of Corpus Christi. “Gazing at the Lord, we acquire so much strength.” (St Raphaela Mary)

Although this may be a bit long, it is interesting to see how this wonderful project was arranged so suddenly in three days. I will leave it to Elena Arce, an alumna of our school in Cordoba, and Elisa García España, to tell you about it.

Elena Arce, works professionally as a Spanish ombudsman and is in charge of the area of Migrations and Equal Treatment. The situation of these boys is a constant concern of the institution.

For this reason, they always support initiatives, like this one, which contribute to dignify the image of these young men and effect their integration into society and into the workforce once they reach legal adulthood.

Elisa García España, is a Professor of Criminal Law and criminology. She directs the OCSPI (Criminological Observatory of the penal system in the context of immigration) of the University of Málaga. One of the areas of work of the Observatory is the evaluation of public policy in strategies of secondary prevention of delinquency and victimization. They have already carried out with this group of young men a very interesting project with the Council of Social Affairs and the youth of the City of Ceuta.



-The Asociación Voluntarios por otro Mundo (Association of Volunteers for another World) has been working for years in Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) with Moroccan boys that, after being unaccompanied foreign minors, have reached the age of 18 and remain on the streets in a condition of absolute social exclusion. Thanks to the work of this association these boys are housed in apartments and obtain the residence permits that correspond to them (and that in most cases the Andalucian department of protection of minors did not arrange for them.) This residence permit does not authorize them to work.

-As an exceptional measure during the pandemic, the Ministry of Agriculture authorized, through a Decree, that these young men could work in the fields until the 30th of September. In addition, once the state of emergency ends, those who have worked, will be able to obtain a permit for work and residence (for 2 years) that will permit them to work anywhere in Spain and in any field of activity.

-The Ombudsman office has supported this project from the beginning, since we believe that it is a wonderful opportunity, not only for the boys themselves, but also to contribute to generating a positive image of them, which will counteract the harmful comments against them which sometimes can develop into genuine hate speech.

-There is a group of 17 young men that, with the support of Voluntarios por Otro Mundo and the Asociación M-Solidaria, obtained work at the beginning of May picking red berries in Huelva. The company provided them with lodging in a house in the village of Rocío, and they have been working until the season ended. Now they have nowhere to sign up immediately for another agricultural harvest, although they have several possibilities of returning to be contracted in other harvests that begin in the month of August.


-With this “improvised work camp” we have an opportunity for these boys to be able to comply with the conditions to renew their residence permit with authorization to work, which will open for them a path for the future. We are going to bridge the gap so that these boys will not remain on the streets and we won’t jeopardize the good work of accompaniment and inclusion that has been done so far.


-The director pf the Fundación Loyola y SAFA mobilized volunteers to begin this urgent response (we count on legal and labor advice, human resources and hygienic safety, important during this time of pandemic).

-One of these volunteers has been the director of the SAFA School in Pedro Abad; he offered to organize volunteer activities in the school.

-On their part, the community of Handmaids in Pedro Abad are offering the residence to house these boys.

-The Asociación Voluntaria por otro Mundo is taking charge of transporting the boys and of their insurance as volunteers.

-The Jesuit Services to Migrants, though their work Pueblos Unidos, is releasing one of their workers, Marta Sánchez, (a lawyer and the person who knows these youths best) to go to Pedro Abad during the first days and, together with Rafael, the director of the school, coordinate the boys’ schedule.

-We also can count on a volunteer to defray the cost of the boys’ stay during the first two weeks of July and another two to continue this help.

-The Iniciativa Ignaciana Servir Juntos (Ignatian Initiative Serving Together) is organizing the volunteers and the activities with these boys during the month of July.

-The Headquarters of the Spanish Military Police  of Cordoba is going to make a proposal to work with these boys during the work camp. (My work in Ceuta with homeless minors in collaboration with the police has been successful, therefore we continue to promote these encounters.)

-The mayor of Pedro Abad has been informed and is delighted with the project and supports us and offers her help.

Donald Camerunés, like them a person formerly in protected status, but now living independently and soon to be a father, is happy to be able to collaborate, doing what he does best, which is cooking. Truly, in Pedro Abad this afternoon it has been a very beautiful moment.

Follow-up organization

In the coming days we will be seeing how to deal with the following weeks: persons whom we count on and activities that can be done. We will design a small project and keep you informed.

St. Raphaela Mary and St. Ignatius – together they are unstoppable.

After the meeting that we had to coordinate and organize this first week, the bus arrived with the boys, escorted by the civil guard. The headquarters in Córdoba is ready to collaborate. So this has been a great way to give the boys a warm welcome.

We are certain that this work camp will go from being a “crazy idea” and will become a precious reality, thanks to the efforts and work of many, because we are all working together.


“Yesterday Elena and I (Elisa) were with the community of the Handmaids of Pedro Abad. The Sisters gave us a tour of the house where St. Raphaela Mary was born. Upon our return, the two of us agreed that her courage and determination to follow the will of God through Ignatian spirituality inspires us in this daring project. 170 years afterwards, the back door of that house, through which they used to give food to the poor and through which they escaped in order to follow the will of God, is now the door through which these young men have entered, one of those realities which others might never reach.”

Caty Gómez, aci