GEF: Humans of Spain (My Second Mother)

Amatxu is like a second mother to me. When I first visited Spain for four months, Amatxu acted as my tour guide, my hostess, my friend, my pep squad and, ultimately, a new-found family member. I last saw her face-to-face in July of 2017 and – knowing that she is always craving to visit somewhere new – I asked her,
“Where would like to travel to next?”
I imagine that (if you read the first couple of lines) you can already guess what her answer was. The thing is, as a loving, encouraging, caring woman, Amatxu hasn’t received the amount of luck I believe that she deserves.
Amatxu was born in Bilbao, Spain. She grew up in that region during the last few decades that Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator, was in power. The area, “Basque Country” and its language, Euskera, were targeted by Franco’s regime. The teaching and speaking of Euskera was banned across the region, and the locals who were encouraged to report their neighbors to the police if they were heard speaking it.
One particular story, recounted here through BBC News, tells of a grandmother who was reported to the police in this region. Before releasing her, her captors shaved all of her hair from her head. The cruel situation led her to stop speaking Euskera for the remainder of her life, leaving her family members deprived of the ability to learn and to pass on the language.
Back to Amatxu’s story: Amatxu grew up in an extremely conservative family. By the time she was a young adult, Amatxu wanted to acquire her driver’s license. As required by the regime, all women needed their father’s permission to travel and to obtain a license, among other things. Amatxu’s father, a traditional man, asserted that none of his daughters would be driving – period. This was just one of the many instances that Amatxu was denied her right to see the world.
Later on in life, Amatxu got married and had children. By the 1980s, Franco’s death caused his weakened regime to crumble. Amatxu had been able to acquire her driver’s license, and had moved to Alcalá de Henares, a suburb of Madrid, around this time. She has lived in Alcalá for more than 30 years, and has almost as much pride for the medieval city as she does her hometown. In that town, which is rampant with UNESCO World Heritage sites, she has raised her two children as a single mother for the majority their lives.
However, bad fortune has caused Amatxu the need to “girar la tortilla” many times. Three separate motor accidents have left her with pain and chronic health issues that have kept her from working a full-time job for more than 20 years. Additionally, ever since the recession in 2008, the Spain has been in economic turmoil. With a current unemployment rate of 24%, well-paying jobs are near non-existent. Amatxu’s son in particular fell on hard times, not being able to find consistent work until March of this year. He has two children, a five-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy; Amatxu has been using her He was unemployed for a total of two years.
Uncategorized