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The workshop is an excuse to learn about its history

Marta Iturriza and Izaro Lizarralde spend an afternoon with people with AIDS or mental illness.

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Izaro Lizarralde and Marta Iturriza do handicrafts in Villa Betania PHOTO: Communication Service
07/02/18 16:14 Communication Service

At the top of the Loiola neighborhood, near the La Salle Institute, live 12 people with AIDS or mental illness. The social-health center, known as Villa Betaniais managed by Caritas Gipuzkoa. Sisters of Charity live with these people every day in order to ensure their welfare and accompany them in the process of physical or cognitive deterioration they are going through. Social exclusion continues to be the main barrier for these people. And, as one sister recounted, it is often they themselves who isolate themselves and seek tranquility in solitude. 

Villa Betania Workshop

The reality of Betania is diverse. Generalizations cannot be made because "everyone is different". This is what doctoral student Marta Iturriza assures after having had a first contact with them. She saw that Tantaka TecnunThe School's Solidarity Time Bank, Tantaka, offered the possibility of participating in sporadic volunteer work. "Workshops for people in a situation of social exclusion," said one of the posters adorning the Ibaeta building. However, Marta prefers to shy away from the term volunteering. "I signed up to do something different. To see other realities that exist near us," she confesses. "But we are all people. It's about normalizing, because for us it could be violent at first, but for them too. We have to take the heat out of the matter and see the activity as a moment for everyone to be together," continues this engineer from San Sebastian. 

Professor Izaro Lizarralde shares Marta's vision. She accompanied this doctoral student to Villa Betania and together with Patricia Maraña, also a doctoral student from the Department of Industrial Organization, spent the afternoon making Christmas crafts with the users.  

Villa Betania Workshop

That same day they bought the materials: rice, socks, buttons, wool and cardboard, with the idea of making snowmen, a nativity scene or colorful stars that could give a Christmas touch to the facilities. However, they ran the risk that some of them might not like the idea very much. Before meeting them, they wondered: "What are we going to bring them? I don't know if we have prepared something very child-friendly. But they are adults, normal people...". The fear of the unknown dissolved after two hours with them cutting out papers, listening to the radio, talking about their musical tastes or what they would have for dinner that night. "I left very happy because I saw that they had responded well and that they had also been at ease with us," says teacher Izaro.

Villa Betania Workshop

"The workshop is an excuse to get to know their history. The key to interact is to give everyone their role, their protagonism. Including us. We wanted everyone to have something to do to spend the afternoon," says Marta. "We have to involve them a little bit, so they don't feel that we come, we do the workshop and we leave. Give them their space so that they can tell what they want," advises Izaro after that first experience. 

Both are clear that it is necessary to have a concern to sign up for a social activity. "You have to have a touch of conscience and of really wanting to help to sign up," they agree. "We always think you have to go outside to help, but that's not the case."

They are now organizing a workshop for the month of February, since "this project makes sense if you come back". They are considering the possibility of making truffles in a cooking workshop and even inviting them to watch a Real Sociedad match, a team in which both Marta and Patricia Maraña play regularly.

Villa Betania Workshop

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