A new life with 250 Euros
By Marcelo del Pozo
It’s five o’clock in the morning and I find myself in a place and situation that I’m sure I shouldn’t be in, much less taking pictures.
Jose Manuel Abel, his wife Olive and their two children, Claudia, 13, and Jose Manuel, 16, were crying and hugging one another as they didn’t know when would be the next time they would see each other.
Abel, from southern Spain, is one of a growing number of Spaniards moving to Germany for work after failing to find a job at home. He has to leave his wife and children behind for the time being, but sees no other choice. Abel, who used to work as a salesman during Spain’s boom years, selling insurance, books, water filters and vending machines, has been unemployed for more than two years. With about one in four people jobless, he sees few prospects working at home and has taken a job in Munich working in the kitchen of a Spanish restaurant owned by a Spanish-German friend.
The family have already lost the home they bought in 1999 because they couldn’t keep up with the mortgage payments. Abel’s hopes of starting a new life in Germany are high: after all, his parents emigrated to Frankfurt at the start of the 1960s when he was two and they lived there until he was seven. History is repeating itself as Abel arrives in Munich with 250 euros in his pocket. One day he wants to find a job for his wife and take his family there.
I feel like mourning, embracing and encouraging them as they say their farewells but I stay on the sidelines. This is not my story. Many emotions and feelings were on display next to me. I said a few encouraging words, we got into a car and the adventure began. We didn’t talk again during the hour-long journey to the airport.
Abel and I connected very well from the beginning. A friend of mine told me about him and his voyage so I proposed that I accompany him for the first days of his trip to create a photo story starting the day before his departure and documenting his early days in Munich. He accepted enthusiastically and from there we started to become friends.
The journey, arrival in the new city and the first few days were without problems. Abel began to call me “The Shadow” because I followed him everywhere, sometimes surprising him in unexpected places. Abel cried with me, we laughed, we enjoyed our time together but most importantly we became very good friends.
Good luck Abel!