“My partner has reduced hours and I have flexible hours, otherwise it’s impossible to get there.”

"My partner has reduced hours and I have flexible hours, otherwise it's impossible to get there."

«The children can stay until 2.30pm, but Unai eats at home and his parents also come to eat», adds Aurora. As for the price of the udalekus, she says that her parents pay «around 200 euros, but it is well spent, because it is a good way to keep the children entertained during the morning. He has a good time», adds the Irundarra while Unai relates very excitedly that that day it was his turn and his group to go to the swimming pools. «I am also in the ‘Jolas’ and we do crafts and excursions», she adds.

“His parents are working and now I am taking him home,” says Juan Manuel, another grandfather who, like many others, is waiting for his grandson at the door. “When we get home we will have lunch with my wife. The daughter comes at 4:00 p.m. and picks him up,” says this man from Irun who admits that this is the first year he has looked after his grandson, who is barely two years old. “He will turn three in November. He will be here until the 20th and then he will stay with his grandmother or his mother,” he concludes.

Grandparents and grandfather uncle

Several grandparents, including a grandfather-uncle, but almost no parents are present to pick up the little ones from summer camp. “His parents are working and his grandmother, who is my wife’s sister, had to go to the doctor, so I came to pick him up,” explains the grandfather-uncle, who comes to pick up his grandnephew who is barely three years old. “This was a one-off day, because there was no one who could come to pick him up and that’s why I came. The rest of the days it will be his grandmother who comes,” he emphasizes.

Maite Llascues, a teacher at the centre, is one of the few mothers who leaves school with two of her children. She does so by bicycle. She specifies that her children do not attend the summer camps, since, “fortunately, I have holidays to be with them and look after them. One of the advantages of being a teacher is that I have holidays in the summer. I save money and I can take care of them. I usually take them to the swimming pool and keep them entertained. It is hard, but that is what happens when summer comes,” she concludes.

The school director, José Ramón Arruabarrena, explains that they have been carrying out these activities for several years to help families balance their lives. “Every year, the school organises open summer camps during the month of July because we want our pupils to have fun at the same school with their classmates. The opening hours are from 8.30 to 13.00, and can be extended with a canteen service until 14.30. This is a longer opening hours than those of the town hall’s udalekus, and not all children get a place, so we decided to create this option. The activities are in Basque for children aged 2 to 5 and in Basque and English for primary school children.

Íñigo with his daughter Naia, at the entrance of the Manteo sports centre, where the little girl attends multi-sport activities.

Gorka Strada

Inigo Garcia She leaves her daughter in Multideporte

«She usually stays here for four hours and then her grandparents come for her because we can’t»

Early in the morning, in the Manteo sports centre, in the San Sebastian neighbourhood of Gros, a hustle and bustle fills the area around the sports facilities. Young people, instructors and parents arrive at the same time to start all the activities that take place in the complex and are organised by the Bera Bera club.

One of the fathers at the door of the sports club is Iñigo García, who says he has two daughters, aged 6 and 3, and that he has to juggle things to be able to organise himself in the summer. “I am lucky that I have a flexible schedule at work and that is why I can come and drop Naia off every morning,” explains this San Sebastian native. He adds that his partner “fortunately also has reduced hours and that is a good thing, because otherwise it would be impossible to get to everything.” “The girl is usually here for four hours and then at 1:00 p.m. my father or my in-laws usually come, because we are working and we cannot come and pick them up.”

Free places

“We applied to the Provincial Council’s colonies, but it is very difficult to get a place, while here it is free”

She admits that they always have the summer holidays in mind and that “practically since they were born, one of our biggest concerns has been knowing what we are going to do with the girls.” As for why she decided to take Naia to the sports centre, she points out that it was not her first choice, since “we also applied for the Provincial Council’s summer camps, but it is very difficult to get a place, whereas here the place is free. In addition, there is greater flexibility, by day, by week and even by month.”

He stresses that he has done “several investigations and comparisons” and criticises that “while in Ordizia, where the girls have cousins, the whole month costs 89 euros, which is what a week costs here.” Another factor that this man from San Sebastian takes into account is the possibility of getting the money back. “My eldest daughter has had a wound on her hand with stitches and therefore has not been able to attend some activities at the centre. In Ordizia, if you don’t attend, they do give you your money back, while here you have to inform them 21 days in advance.”

Naia does not stay in the dining room, although that is the possibility. Regarding the option of hiring someone, she explains that they do not have the possibility of paying a person and that the girls “are still very young. At twelve years old they are already more independent, but it is not possible for them to be left alone at such a young age and a solution must be found.”

A group of girls enjoy ice cream at the pelota court next to the seminary in Donostia.

Sara Santos

Magnolia Lives He leaves his son in the solidarity colonies

“This initiative helps me save money so I can pay for my other son to be looked after”

“Immigrants do not have a support network during the summer, which is why in 2019 we decided to create these urban colonies,” says educator Jon Arruti. “The delegations, both from the Pastoral of Migrants and the Education of the Diocese of San Sebastian, and Caritas Gipuzkoa, are promoting a new edition of the Urban Colony with the collaboration of different people who, on a voluntary basis, are making it possible for no child to be left without a well-deserved free time experience in summer.”

“Many children are from families of foreign origin, from Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa. Most are primary school children because those in secondary school have greater autonomy and it is easier for families to balance their work and family life.”

The facilities of the Larramedi School and the pelota court have been used for fifteen days for more than one hundred children to play and have fun. These solidarity udalekus began on June 24 and ended yesterday in a festive atmosphere, according to Marcia Velasquez, one of the mediators between the families and the Diocese. “My eldest daughter is a monitor and my youngest daughter is also in the colonies. Many parents come as volunteers too, because we give them two snacks and lunch to the children, and we need a lot of hands. Zaporeak has lent us all the equipment to cook and many companies have donated food to us,” she says.

The price of these camps is 60 euros, but Marcia explains that “each case is studied individually so that no family is left out for not being able to pay.”

Magnolia Vivas is one of the mothers who is “grateful for this initiative.” She came from Colombia two years ago with her children. The oldest is 10 years old and the youngest is 3. I pay 400 euros for them to look after him in the nursery and if there were two of them I would have to pay 800, almost my entire salary, for which I am very grateful. In addition, the child has a great time and I know that he is in good hands. Next year I plan to bring him again.”

Monitors and children in the Santa Bárbara park in Arrasate.

«Children here have their own space and play sports»

Josu Herrero, father and organiser of the summer camps for the local handball team, Arrasate Eskubaloi, explains that this summer initiative offers leisure alternatives to the youngest: “In summer parents work and often have to leave their children with their grandparents, so this kind of camp is very good for children to have their own space and enjoy being in the company of other children. In addition, in our case they serve to practice sports outdoors now that the good weather is here and, at the same time, to get them closer to the world of handball,” he adds.

Unlike other sports such as football or basketball, Herrero admits that “it is not so easy to promote our sport, which is why initiatives like these are vital. We have been organising these camps for several years and this year twelve children have decided to live this experience with us. We hope that more will be encouraged each year,” he concludes.

The first camp ended yesterday, after children were able to enjoy this sport since Monday, and the second round of the camp starts on Monday and will also last five days, until Friday 12th. The price of this activity is 30 euros per week. Monitors and children will meet in the Santa Bárbara park in Arrasate, where this sports camp takes place, giving parents a break during the summer.

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