Málaga, Spain: a city of tourism, beaches, sun and… short-term mission?!?
Hi, I’ve recently returned to the UK after a 12-day trip to Málaga, a city on the south coast of Spain, known for being a popular tourist destination with golden beaches and great weather. However, the objective of my trip to Málaga wasn’t to catch some sun, rather to go on short-term mission to ‘Diez42’, a project serving some of the most needy people in this first-world tourist hotspot: migrants.
According to the UN, Spain received over 58,000 refugees and immigrants in 2018, an increase of 37,000 from 2017. With Málaga being situated less than 80 miles from mainland Africa, separated only by a narrow stretch of the Mediterranean, it is increasingly receiving thousands of Moroccans and other North Africans fleeing corruption, poverty and unemployment. These people have often left family and friends behind and arrived in an unfamiliar city with an alien culture and language, often leaving them isolated and disorientated- where can they go for support? Where can they spend their time? Where do they make friends? The Diez42 centre is the answer for the more than two hundred families it serves on a weekly basis.
It was a privilege to spend my mornings at Diez42 distributing food parcels to around 90 families each day. The majority of these families have arrived in Málaga from Morocco or other countries in North Africa, but the people served by the centre also include Eastern Europeans, South Americans and even Spaniards who need support. Yet Diez42 is more than a food bank: a significant amount of my time at the centre was dedicated to a recently-begun English club for 5 to 12 year olds. From preparing the daily craft activity, to decorating the classroom, to playing games with the children, it was extremely rewarding to be part of the team leading this club. Around 20 children came to each class, where, amongst other activities, they heard the gospel (many for the first time!) in the target language of English. This English club meant the children’s mothers could simultaneously have their own craft session, allowing relationships to be built with each other and with the Diez42 volunteers, helping the mothers build confidence with their Spanish and learn new skills, which was amazing to facilitate.
My experience at Diez42 was incredible and I would greatly encourage anyone able to go on a similar short term mission trip to make the most of the opportunity. Never before had I spoken to people from 5 different continents in the space of a couple of hours. Never before had I truly witnessed what living to spread the love and gospel of Jesus looks like, as I did whilst being amongst the wonderful volunteers at the Diez42 centre.