What you are about to read does not happen in Minneapolis. It occurs in Lleida, Catalonia. The proximity, sometimes, clouds the focus or directly distracts it. Problems look different when they are from others and are further away, although sometimes they help create awareness to see what is closest.
This 2020, the fruit harvest campaign has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Many workers from outside Spain stayed in their country of origin despite the fact that the Ministry of Agriculture is trying to relax measures so that they can go to the stone fruit collection campaign. In this sector, up to 50% of workers are foreigners.
But what is its direct relationship with sport? Nogay Ndiaye, a high school teacher and anti-racist activist, explained it on Twitter on May 30 and went viral. “Is there racism in Lleida?” he wondered before he explainsr the initiative of Keita Balde, Senegalese international striker from Monaco born in Arbùcies, Girona. The player, confined in the Principality because of the Covid-19, is aware of the situation that many of his compatriots live who have come to work in the campaign to collect fruit in this area and who are forced to sleep in the Street. Balde offered to pay for accommodation for everyone as long as it was needed, but found it difficult to get it. Hence, the question: rhetoric? from Nogay, who tries to find the accommodation that Keita wants to provide them.
Sergine Mamadou was the one who lit the wick. His live on Instagram with the actor and director Paco León telling about the situation that exists there made it reach the ears of Keita Balde and many others. He became interested and, in another direct with Mamadou, he publicly promised to help. The footballer sought help in Nogay, which serves AS.
Before finalizing the case, he considers it necessary to make an overview of the situation. “There are around 200 people in this situation. There will be more because they arrive every day. This only in Lleida city. In the surroundings is where the field is and adding these towns, we estimate 2000 people sleeping on the streets. There is everything. People with and without residence permits. They come because they work. Some are hired, but not hired. They risk it and there are those who take advantage of it. An hour that is almost seven euros net is paid to five, four or three. There are those who 12 hours ago and go home with 20 euros “, assures this newspaper. Through their association and together with unions they could denounce but the need stops them. Those 20 euros are necessary to eat.
Seeing this, the Monaco striker tried to help, but Ndiaye warned. “I told him it was going to be difficult. Here it costs a lot to get a flat for a non-white person even meeting requirements. Me, complying with everything, they have denied me floors. I went with my white sisters or white friends to take with me some 'whiteness' to show confidence. When they saw that it was for me, excuses and excuses. If it costs that way, try to accommodate 200, “he explains.
Neither Keita nor Nogay ask for anything for free. Money is and is not little. The offer is accommodation with food from May to September. All season and everything already paid in advance but still, there are reservations. “I have received noes and very emphatic. When it is a business, you care about the numbers. I was amazed. It was a lot of money on the table, “he adds. He called agencies, hostels, hotels and even vulture funds. “I do not agree with it at all but they had a place. They just wanted investors,” he says.
Although not everything, luckily, are “resounding noes”. Nogay saw an ad for 'apartments' that later turned out to be one. The owner, he says, regretted not having more space to accommodate all the farm workers Keita wanted to help. “It was lovely. He gave me contacts to help us stay. The one who had the least was the one who collaborated the most. “In this list, he adds to hotels outside the city, a neighborhood house and an agency that” treats you as it has to treat you. As people. “Something that, according to him, is not too common. 'Casually', that agency is close to closing a contract with them.
Even if it is thousands of kilometers away, Nogay Ndiaye assures that the justice that is demanded today for Floyd in the United States and the empathy that he generates in people so many kilometers away can be positive to solve nearby problems like this one.
Keita confirms it: there is already accommodation for 90 temporary workers
Keita Balde appeared on her Instagram account to offer, through a direct, more details about what happened. “I am not missing anything, I live well. I wanted to sensitize public opinion to something very serious. With the work I do I can reach people and know about it. I have voluntarily placed 200 people in Lleida who work in the fields. I have volunteered. They were homeless, on the street, without food or anything. They work 12 hours a day without stopping. Most of them are Senegalese and I wanted to help them, heart in hand, doing what I can. I don't want to seek a moral, social, race or color war. I just want to help and find solutions. That's the important thing. I want to help with food, home and clothes and in the midst of this help there have been complications, “he explained.
Despite these problems already explained, Keita gave good news: 90 of the 200 temp workers already have a roof. “We already have the first place to put enough of them. Ninety of the two hundred there are. One wonders, today in 2020 to rent a home they can create problems for you. We live in a complicated society but nobody deserves that indifference. It is very ugly. I wanted to do it anonymously but given the situation. I've had to go out into the open to get somewhere. My name came out, I said there are guarantees, you pay in advance. We have already achieved the first and hope to achieve the second “He added, in addition to ensuring that everyone will receive clothes that will also be provided by the player.
The striker recalled his beginnings and put himself as a guarantee, sent a message against racism and asked for union. “I don't do this to achieve anything. My parents are from Senegal and I say I am a kid from the world. I respect all countries and races. Whoever wants to write to me can do it. Go all together and not eat the cake alone. If you help 200 people, if five of us get together, imagine what we could do, “he said, calling for union.
“Monday has come food for the whole week. I already sent the money to be covered but the most important thing is the home. For the people who are listening to me, I hope they make things easier for us. Today, it must be said clearly, even if you have all the resources, a humble and calm family, … the situation speaks for itself. It is normal that ideas come out by color, by country, etc. They are covered because I am with them and I am going to help them. I will do everything to facilitate your stay. The color theme has to be lost now and it doesn't have to be a problem “, explained the footballer from Monaco.