Separately Together part I. - AC Amics
We happily announce that with this interview we start our new article series in our magazine, which is Separately Together. The name comes from the fact that we are far from each other but still we have common history, shared beliefs, which keeps us together in good times and in bad times. With this article series we would like to introduce you to our international partner organisations. Stay tuned!
There exists an organisation in Spain with whom we share thousands of great memories together, and has a special place in our heart. They might be familiar for those who follow TIA, because they can be recognized in pictures, they are mentioned in posts. We are working with them for quite a long time now. Today we are going to talk with AC Amics de la Biblioteca de la Fonteta and especially with Enrique Monrabal Ruiz who is a member of the organization. The Amics can be found in Silla, Valencia, Spain. They are an organisation who work with non-formal education through which they are providing learning opportunities for youth.
When and with what aim was the organization founded?
The organization comes from an initiative of the Scouts movement in 2005. That year was the 20th anniversary of the group. They decided that instead of celebrate the anniversary with a big party, they would create something that could remain in time. So they created a project to restore an old library and use that space as a Youth Centre for the children of the neighbourhood. They ran activities and workshops for them, they helped them with the homework, played games etc.
Then in 2013 that space had to be closed but the organization stayed alive and evolved to what we are now.
How do you reach the youth? What kind of programmes do you organize?
Nowadays our main tools to reach the youth are the board games and the Erasmus+ projects. We work in some municipalities: we give information about Erasmus+ at the youth department. Here we give the youth the opportunity to participate in different projects but also to write their own application forms with their ideas for Youth Exchanges or Solidarity Projects. Also we host and send volunteers for the European Solidarity Corps and we organise and participate in different Erasmus+ Key Action 1 (Learning Mobility of Individuals) and Key Action 2 (Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices) projects.
We also run board games workshops at youth centres and, before all the Coronavirus situation, we started "AMICS GAMES HUB", a monthly board game club, which is open and free for everyone who wants to join.
With the quarantine, our activity is now online. We keep our information service through video calls and together with our European volunteers we run online conversation groups (Spanish-English) and some language workshops on our Instagram account.
Tell us about your country's youth. What difficulties are they facing? How can you help them?
Well, here in Spain we faced a big economic crisis a few years ago and we are still dealing with the consequences. Young people have difficulties with finding a job and also finding a job with good conditions. Moreover, they have a lot of problems with the education system and that generates a lot of school dropouts. In 2015 Spain was the Top 1 country on school dropouts and nowadays I don't know if we still Top 1 but for sure we are in a high level…
The main help we can offer them regarding this situation is to encourage them to take part in a European Solidarity Corps volunteering project abroad. I thinks that's absolutely a life changing experience, especially for youth in that situation.
I know that because of my own experience back in 2017, when I was a NEET (not in employment, education or training) and I was a bit lost. I found the opportunity and I took part in a 12 months volunteering project in the UK. That experience changed everything for me.
Do you think that the civic society is independent and autonomous in your country? In your opinion in what field should the NGOs develop?
That's a hard question… Yes, as the definition says, civic society is independent and autonomous and it involves a lot of different kinds of people (and that's great) but in practice I don't know if that's 100% true. I mean, there is always the dependence on something, for example getting the found or being allowed to do this or do that. Is that real independence or autonomy? It's a very deep and dense topic from my point of view.
I think there are NGOs in almost every field that you can imagine and that is amazing, I mean the diversity is the key to success…
From my personal point of view, nowadays, if I had a "magic wand" to give special power to any NGO, I would bet on NGOs working on the field of environment issues as it is one of the biggest problems the world is facing right now. Still some people don't want to open their eyes.
Are you a member of any local, national or international network?
Yes, we collaborate with the local Youth Council. We are members of APROVE, a national network recently set up by NGOs who host and send volunteers, in order to support each other. In an international level, we are members of two networks: EUROMED CITIZENSHIP and RÜCKENWIND.
What do you think about TIA? Share a good memory with us.
TIA is one of the greatest NGOs I know. All the people involved in it, all the things they do and all the projects and events they create are an example to follow. Personally I have a very special love for TIA because of their people and the opportunities that appeared in my life since I met them.
Back in 2016, when I started to participate in Youth Exchanges, I heard for the first time from different people that there was someone in Hungary called Zita who's "making the best projects" with her organisation. (edit: Zita Szalai, programme director, Tudatos Ifjúságért Alapítvány, Hungary) I was very curious about that and at the beginning of 2019 I met her and I participated in the Training Course of PlayIn'clusive where I joined the project as a youth leader.
What to say about PlayIn'clusive? It brought me tons of good moments, experiences and opportunities in a personal and professional way. Recently, Eurodesk gave the Honourable Mention to the project at the Eurodesk Awards 2020 which means that we did a great work with it, and I'm not surprised, because the team that we created – Zita Szalai, Rebeka Kurunczi from Tudatos Ifjúságért Alapítvány, Hungary; Aytaç Uzunlas, Mert Can Başkaya from Yaygin Egitim Merkezi Dernegi, Turkey; Antonio Benaches and me, Enrique Monrabal Ruiz from AC Amics de la Biblioteca de la Fonteta, Spain - was very easy and pleasant to work with.
The best part of all of this is that I think the memories will increase as we will be, for sure, working together in the future and I hope to be there.
For all that and many more, I can't express all my gratitude to TIA and AMICS for being part of that.
And I am now, in 2020, when my memory goes back to that people in 2016 saying "there is someone in Hungary called Zita…"
We very much hope that this pandemic won't last long so that we can work together in real life with our Spanish friends again. If you would like to know more about AC Amics, you can follow them on facebook or instagram and visit their webpage.