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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Labor practices to save peoples at risk of extinction

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John Jiménez Ruiz is 22 years old and, after studying social work in Pamplona, ​​is doing his paid training at the farm school in Ultzama, about 24 kilometers from the capital of Navarre. His home is a mobile home. This young man from La Rioja is one of the participants in the second edition of the Raíces/Sustraiak program, also called Rural Erasmus, funded by the regional government and managed by the Public University of Navarre. Unlike other similar initiatives promoted by other communities such as Aragon or by the Spanish government under the name Rural Campus, practices in Navarre need to be developed in communities threatened by depopulation.

The range is large. 64% of the municipalities of Navarra face some risk of depopulation and in one in four municipalities this risk is extreme. “The rural environment of Navarra is forgotten, but it’s not just a problem in La Rioja or Navarre, it’s a problem throughout Spain,” reflects Jiménez Ruiz. As explained by the Director General of Local Administration and Depopulation of the Foral government, Jesús Mari Rodríguez, “It is interesting that students can carry out a process of immersion in rural areas, either by working in a local entity or in an SME”. “It’s a good way to learn about the field and add value and talent,” he argues.

Young people like John Jiménez have the opportunity to do an internship far from home without going abroad or to a big city. However, this option is not without difficulties, starting with housing. Jiménez has to live in a mobile home in Ultzama because he can’t find a decent rent with the almost 1,000 euros a month he receives with this grant. David Crespo, a 22-year-old applied sociology student and native of Tudela, is going through a similar situation. He lives in Pamplona and has been working for a month and a half in the city of Ochagavía, about 85 kilometers from the capital, as director of the cultural center Casa Koleto.

Crespo has also been unable to find affordable housing in the city because, he says, most of the accommodation available is country houses. “If there was cheap housing, yes I would have moved here, but instead I bought a car. I come and go, although some days I’m teleworking,” he reveals. His case is not the only one. He remembers other workers in the city who had to seek accommodation in nearby towns, such as a school teacher who lived in one for three months camping next because he couldn’t afford a room.

From the General Directorate for Depopulation, they recognize that housing and communications are two serious problems facing rural areas. Her leader is committed to making rehabilitation help possible, but concedes “that these are measures that will come gradually”.

Difficulties aside, this rural program allows young people to take part in initiatives to promote tourism, promote citizen participation in public life or produce wine. Crespo is working on the opening of the future ethnographic-cultural center Casa Koleto de Ochagavía. “It’s an old 18th-century house owned by a wealthy family that wants to be used as a tourist attraction so visitors can see what life in the Salazar Valley was like years ago,” he explains. Among the objects on display are, for example, old livestock tools, the workings of which he was able to discover thanks to the collaboration with the town’s elders: “I used documents that some people from the town have, I interviewed them to explain to me how the Objects worked and told me aspects of the culture because there was no information about it on the internet. The most interesting thing is to learn by talking to others”.

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John Jiménez, at the farm school where he works, in a friendly picture.

Crespo is in his element because his goal is to focus his career on the application of sociology to territorial development, with initiatives that promote, among other things, sustainable and cultural tourism: “I want to devote myself to improving the experience of peoples, because I think it’s the most interesting unit to start projects that promote democracy and bring people closer to politics”.

Jiménez also shares Crespo’s concerns about the development of his life and career in the rural world: “If the internships hadn’t been in rural areas, I would never have taken them. I’ve always come from a city, I’ve always lived in one, and I’ve never really gotten used to the city. The truth is that I’m excited.” In his case, his project is part of the work of the Ultzama Farm School, specifically in the integration company that works for the social and professional inclusion of people who are socially excluded or at risk.

Among the main lessons he draws from his work practice, John Jiménez emphasizes the need to enliven city life with youth activities, parties and sports “that move the youth, but also children and the elderly”.

In this second edition of Raíces/Sustraiak, 28 places have been offered to apply for young graduates or students of any degree, master’s degree or exchange program of the Public University of Navarre (UPNA), the body responsible for administration. The Vice Rector for Students, Employment and Entrepreneurship, Cristina Bayona, explains that it is the local institutions or companies that offer training projects, the student body chooses among them those that interest them the most and later they get a place. In this program, communities at risk of depopulation are prioritized and entities such as small town halls or associations are encouraged to host students in paid internships, fully funded by the Navarra government. In the same way, Navarra collaborates with the European project Kinesis, which allows students from Italy, Germany or Estonia to do internships in cities of Navarre.

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Source elpais.com

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