#LIMEstories – MEET PAOLA, a Honduran girl to whom the quarantine has changed the life, for the better!

21 September 2020

Paola, from Honduras, arrived in Spain two years ago and since then she has never stopped looking for opportunities to improve herself. During a pandemic that forced everyone at home, the LIME project came at the right time to change her life!

The ALDA team had a long conversation with her where we learned more about her life.

How did you meet PINARDI and the LIME project?

Paola told us that she had heard about some courses that PINARDI (one of the project’s partner) offered in Madrid and she went to one of the centres to get more information. Since at the time she was also working, her hours never matched those of the opening of the offices, but she didn’t give up: “The first time I went I was with four friends, the second time there were only two of us, the third and the fourth time there was only me left, but I insisted and insisted until I could find someone to tell me all about the courses”, Paola told us.

What motivated you to take part in the project and how did the Covid pandemic affect you?

When she arrived in Spain, the biggest difficulty that Paola encountered was finding a job because she didn’t have the necessary documents. However, even after she was granted political asylum, many people were not willing to give her a job because, despite her young age, the experience she had in her country was not recognised and she had no certificate to prove what she could do.

She struggled to find work in the care of the elderly or children, but this did not allow her to find time for training. So, despite the difficulties that Covid-19 created, the imposed isolation and the consequent loss of her job actually opened the possibility for Paola to start the courses offered by PINARDI. In the first months she studied cooking, food manipulation, technology, nursing and law, and her lawyer professor clarified her many doubts about her migrant status and taught her how to juggle labour contracts and social security. “I took advantage of the quarantine to keep myself busy, to learn something that will allow me to do a job I really like in the future”.

Taking a course entirely online depends largely on your desire to focus on what you are learning. Despite the difficulty, Paola told us several amusing anecdotes about her experience as the cooking teacher who prepared the dishes through a screen and the students tried to replicate the dishes in their homes or as some misunderstandings of words and expressions due to the great variety of nationalities present and cultures so different, but they always aroused a lot of laughter and helped to cement good relations between the participants even though they could not see each other in person.

How has your life changed and what advice would you give to other migrants and the organisers?

I have always been very shy and raised many barriers with strangers. Even during the courses at the beginning I was very quite and silent. Then I saw that the environment was very welcoming and made you feel comfortable asking questions and expressing your opinion“. Paola told us that she made a big change thanks to the course and the help of the teachers. She finally managed to gain more self-confidence and this meant that in an interview right after the courses she was immediately selected for a job to support an elderly lady where she could put her nursing and cooking skills into practice.

Considering her experience and that of many migrants, Paola invited us never to take for granted the psychological and emotional aspect as well as the practical and working one. She was happy to have met people at PINARDI who motivated her and invited her to be patient because her time would come and her efforts would be rewarded.

To other young people who are in her situation, Paola tells them not to give up and return to their country empty-handed: “Make an effort to move forward, train and learn new things, don’t just do a job you don’t like just because it can give you easy money”. For this reason Paola has already recommended PINARDI courses to several of her friends.

We thank Paola for her time and wish her to find a job she really enjoys!