In Spain, a local man turned his garage into a classroom to teach the Spanish language to the arrivals at the Canary Islands as authorities struggled to cope with the surge in undocumented migrants arriving on its beach.
According to the Spanish Interior Ministry, 7,260 people landed on the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean after a dangerous sea trip from January to mid-July, a significant increase from 2,800 in the same period the year before.
Authorities report that the Covid-19 pandemic greatly affected tourism and other industries in northern and sub-Saharan Africa, thus pushing people to leave Europe to search for a better life.
After finding that there are insufficient resources for the increasing number of immigrants, Tito Martin, who lives in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, has been prompted to start his makeshift school to teach the Spanish language.
“I thought it was time to stop just agreeing with news and commentary about the situation and decided to take action,” Martin said.
As the area’s migrant facilities are overcrowded, authorities have housed thousands of arrivals in camps where human rights groups have criticized their dire conditions.
Mar Low, 25 years old, arrived in Canary 8 months ago and now taking Spanish lessons three times a week said, “I want to learn Spanish. Before I lived in Senegal, I had never been to school. I didn’t know how to read.”
Low spent 14 days at sea, five without water or food, before his boat was rescued by a Spanish rescue boat. He said, “If they hadn’t helped us, we would all have died for sure.”
Isabel Florido, a local French and English teacher, is currently one of the volunteers teaching Spanish at Martin’s makeshift school.
“I’m a conscious person, aware of what’s going on around me, and the reality is that… my island is suffering right now, I care about it,” she said.
Martin provides a safe refuge for migrants where they can shower, eat, or learn Spanish.
“What I have had first and foremost from the boys is gratitude, despite their desperate situation,” Martin said.