I know of two great charities in Spain, both completely different but in some ways the same as ANIMO. One is ASPRODALBA in Vera Almeria, which was started over twenty five years ago by Ignacio Martín Cuadrado and his wife. They had a big dream to help mentally challenged adults lead a useful and fulfilling life. With their own money and work they started brick by brick and now are one of the few success stories I know. They have a beautiful centre and many students are brought in by bus every day where they are offered classes in gardening, pottery, theatre and many more things. They even have a physiotherapist a few days a week. They get very little funding from the government and now the English community has seen the wonderful job they are doing and are raising lots of money to help with fund-raisers. ALL the money goes into the centre. I am so pleased that they succeed and are constantly advancing and offering more options to their students. Ignacio’s wife runs a centre for infants and small children to try and help them before it is too late.
Another centre that I deeply respect is called Sac Xiroi, in Barcelona. It has been running for some twenty years as a family-run operation. It is directed by Miguel and Trini Gallardo, who have to be the greatest people I have ever met. They take street kids and delinquents to a home and work with them giving meaning to their lives. They use AAT but in a different way to how ANIMO did. ANIMO was strictly physically oriented and Sac Xiroi is psychologically oriented and animals are also used as a reward for good behavior. They were the first in Spain to explore the inclusion of animals in their therapy. They travelled the world and attended seminars, at their own expense. They both worked two jobs just to put food on the table. Their success has been remarkable and now we hear that they have been made to shut down due to government cuts. They have helped everyone who came to them and are true humanitarians. They now stand to lose everything and I think it is criminal.
Here’s what they say:
‘Por otro lado, a los tres días de no tener niños, los caballos, las cabras y los tocinos se negaron a comer, ya que les faltaban las caricias y besos de los niños y los hemos tenido que regalar, para evitar que se murieran...’
Another charity that started with nothing but good will, I will mention in brief at the moment and go into further detail at a later time, is Mensajeros de la Paz, started and run by Padre Angel, Whom I found very similar to Mother Teresa. He started taking in street kids and now has a world wide operation helping everyone from the elderly to young girls giving them training and jobs to get them out of drugs, neglect, abuse and prostitution. His charity is enormous and covers the globe, as does he. He never stops and is always on the go checking that his work is being carried out.
HACHICO is a centre to train dogs for the physically disabled and is run in Belgium by a fantastic girl named Caroline. Not only is she fantastic at her job, she came to help ANIMO get started on its dog program and came to give demonstrations in Spain with two of her dogs. She even did a demonstration on the Aeroplane to the delight of the passengers and crew. She had a very hard beginning but is now doing very well and has a very good reputation - I owe her a debt of gratitude for all the help she gave me and the great work she is doing.
I would also like to thank Francisco Limonche from Telefonica in Spain. It was under strange circumstances that we met, in a trade fair, but he never gave up trying to help me and give me contacts in Spain. I would like to thank him for all he did for me and what he is doing around the world to help the disabled.