A brief presentation of Benallar and of the market garden project in Sarria

1. The Benallar Foundation 
Benallar came into being in October 2002. It is a non-profit social foundation that aims at promoting, channelling and facilitating equality of life in all domains, in between immigrant persons and the society that receives them. It was the second social project of the "Associació Cintra", which is composed of 40 religious congregations. In 2010 this association also launched a housing Project, training for entry into the labour market and intercultural activities. 
 
2. Emergency accommodation for young people at risk 
The association has several flats providing accommodation for people with financial difficulties. Here we’ll talk about the one where people come initially, the one that is looked after by Consuelo Palomar, a sister of our community, with two religious of other congregations. They work as a team and take turns to share life and also the domestic work with the young people who are accommodated there. They try to give them wide-ranging instruction that would help them to integrate the culture and customs of this country. 
 
3. A project for ecological horticulture: 
  an opportunity and a strategy to create employment 
This Project began in the year 2010 and at present there is a desire to give it a fresh impetus. This is due to the creation in May 2012 of the non-profit company ’Verdallar’ S.L. which offers a new opportunity – that ecological horticulture could be a strategy to promote training and employment for the young immigrants who arrive. 
Faced with the serious economic crisis Benallar tries to give a response, depending on the possibilities, through initiating courses that prepare an entry into the labour market for people who don’t have a work permit – this through workshops for handcrafts and horticulture by which the young people can subsist, even though at a minimal level. The land that was loaned to them by another congregation was inadequate. 
 
4. The Benallar-Verdallar project for the market garden, ’WUNPINI’, on the land of the Little Sisters at Sarriá 
 
At the Council of the Province in December 2012, and later in the provincial council, the cession of the land was discussed, taking into account the positive aspect of this gesture – offering training and work to ’undocumented’ immigrants and also the savings with regard to the wages paid to the team that maintained the garden and the field. The provincial council took the decision to sign the contract ceding the land. Thus there was the legal agreement by which the Congregation ceded the specified land and the water for the irrigation in return for the maintenance and cleaning of the rest of the field and garden. The harvesting and sale of the vegetables will be a source of income helping to support those living in the sheltered accommodation. The association covers the cost of gathering the fruit and harvest is shared equally with the Little Sisters. This project began on the 2nd of January 2013. 
We in the community are delighted that the water is being used, that the well-cultivated land will bear fruit and that the results can be shared with those who are really in need. We think it is a contribution that will serve to create a more human world and promote a lifestyle that is healthy, ecological and in solidarity with others. 
 
A Fiesta inaugurating the market garden in Sarriá
 
A day that was like a sign of love from God for our community The 13th was a special day: The Benallar Foundation invited us to the celebration marking the inauguration of the ecological market garden. It was organised down to the last detail and it was an occasion for Thanksgiving for all. There were about 100 people there, between volunteers, young people who are received by Benallar, other Institutions that we work with and Little Sisters of the Assumption. We celebrated the gift of nature, the joy of the fruits of the earth that were already appearing etc. 
The ceremony of ’Presentation’ began with various speeches: Teresa Olivella, who is responsible for this market garden, introduced the Foundation and thanked the Little Sisters and all the volunteers for their valuable collaboration. Carmen Jiménez was invited to say a few words which, although improvised, were very appropriate, high-lighting the work of the Foundation and the labour of the young immigrants etc. Ana Royo (Religious of the Company of Saint Teresa, Foundress and President of the Benallar Foundation) expressed gratitude for the collaboration the many volunteer to help and for the generosity of the Little Sisters, all this in favour of those who are most disadvantaged. She explained how, after receiving various proposals for the name of the market garden, they had chosen: ’Hort Wunpini’ which means: ’gift of God’ in the Dagomba language of Ghana. 
Then Assumpta Pallarés (a volunteer) read the poem ’Solstici’ by Miquel Martí i Pol, a poem that is truly a meditation: 
"Let us lead life with the certainty 
that no effort 
will fall on barren ground… 
The day will come when somebody 
will drink from cupped hands 
a water of light that springs from the stones 
of the new time 
that we are sculpting" (a free translation of the Catalan original)
Sister Consuelo, Little Sister of the Assumption, one of the team for the reception apartment, read a Gospel text: ’Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are?’ (Mt 6:26). This text encourages us to learn from nature which needs care to grow and bear fruit but, in the end, all is the providence of God. Several Little Sisters from Barcelona participated; some of them collaborate with Benallar. Then, in this prayerful and joyous atmosphere, we were invited to create a large ’mandala’ in which all were able to display their creativity. Many of those present had never done a collective mandala and it turned out to be a very beautiful experience of fraternal community, a tribute to nature and a shared thanksgiving. 
 
 
Beginning the speeches / Beginning the mandala - "Let the children come to me"
 
But the principal persons at the event were the teacher and the young men of the Benallar horticulture workshop who lodge in the Foundation apartments. Without their work and dedication it would have been impossible that, in the space of three months, land that had been lying idle for so many years could now be so well cultivated and cared for. For this they were congratulated in the presence of all and were presented with a gift. They themselves livened up this activity with music from their homeland. Eulalia Dib had the opportunity to talk with them in Arabic and they were delighted with that. 
 
After the prayer and the work of art, it was proposed that we form two large groups, each headed by a volunteer with two recipi-ents containing water from the pond. With a small leafy branch, they blessed the whole field. There in the field there was a detailed explanation of the different vegetables that could already be seen, each one with its own colour… It all formed a gift of life! 
 
 
The spring sun was present, giving us light and colour… and the fiesta ended with a ’pica pica", food that each one had brought; this en-couraged sharing and the discussion of ideas and projects, with good inter-action. This brought the Celebration to an end. 
 
 
Photo taken on the 7th of May 2013 The preparation of the field began on the 2nd of January.
Everything grows: beet, lettuce, tomatoes, garlic, onions, parsley etc.
 
 
Hermana Concepción (Little Sister of the Assumption, La Sarriá)
22/10/2013
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