#LIMEstories – MEET BERTA, an educator of the LIME pilot project in Madrid who has been working with Pinardi for 7 years.

5 October 2020

Listening to Berta tell the ALDA team about her role in Pinardi it is impossible not to see in her face the satisfaction she feels for her work.

We asked her, therefore, to tell us more about the development of the LIME project and the impact it had on the young participants as well as on her.

Could you introduce us to Pinardi and your role in the project?

Pinardi is a Salesian social entity that works mainly with young people, as taught by his precursor Don Bosco. The various social platforms follow different actions: the socio-educational part deals with children and young people, helping them in extracurricular activities; the social intervention part deals with youngster in need of international protection or of whom Pinardi himself is legal guardian; and a part dedicated to employment where he deals with training and job integration. “The LIME project is between the last two areas because the youngster living in our community also participate, together with others, in the training and job search part. This is because Pinardi always tries to adopt an integrated attention to the person, helping them in various aspects of their life”.

Berta is concretely responsible for coordinating all training activities and the relationship with companies, managing which activities they would do with the young people. Berta told us: “My role is to serve those most in need”.

How can you describe the atmosphere in the classroom among the participants and the relationship between them and you as educators?

To take part in the project the migrants had to have an A2 level of Spanish in order to be able to follow the courses well and to participate in the personal skills training part. However, it often happened that someone did not understand something. “It was very nice to see how they were helping each other, translating and explaining things. There was a very relaxed atmosphere in which even the many young people who did not have a social network in Spain found companions to hang out with and spend time outside the classroom“.

In the same way a very close relationship was built with the educators. The participants knew they could count on them also for problems not directly related to the project. To do this “the important thing is to make them feel accepted and welcome them as if they were at home. There were also many young people with psychological difficulties and it was essential to take this into account and help them in a more specific way”.

What were the biggest difficulties you encountered?

Pinardi has been working for years with a model very similar to the LIME project in job training and coordination with companies. For this reason, there were no problems with the project. However, the covid-19 forced to disrupt all the activities that were taking place in presential and transfer them online. In just 15 days they were able to provide all the tools to follow the courses, including the cooking courses, and work in groups, albeit by videoconference. It was not easy, however, because not everyone was ready to participate in a virtual way and some had more difficulties.

Despite this Pinardi had a waiting list of participants who had to start training and “it was important to continue, welcome them and make them aware both of the measures that were being taken in Spain and of the impact of the situation on the labour market in a country that lives mainly on tourism and whose sector was in great crisis”.

Now the project is almost over and 30% of young people have already found employment. This is a good result if you consider the situation, but above all Berta told us: “80% have clearly improved their situation, took advantage of this opportunity and used it to become more autonomous. The remaining 20%, however, need more time. The process is always a two-way process and therefore requires willpower on both sides“.

How does the project affect you personally and what advice would you give to improve it?

“My work is extremely rewarding. Plus listening to their stories and seeing them continue to struggle and smile teaches you so much. The resilience these guys have is incredible,” Berta told us.

The educator also told us about the change she saw in the young participants after they got to know the volunteers of some companies. Pinardi had in fact organised meetings between a participant and a volunteer to allow an exchange on their respective paths. “Seeing the young people feel at ease in contact with the companies and seeing the human relationships that were built between them gave me great joy. At the end of the meetings they were super motivated!” This also showed how fundamental the joint work of the associations and companies is in generating a good result for the project.

However, one aspect on which we will have to continue to work, Berta told us, is the digital training of the participants. Even if they are young and know how to use social media, very often they do not have the knowledge to write a curriculum or send it in the right way. This will be a key aspect for the continuation of the LIME project!