Who am I and what is Son Severa Solidari?
An article by Isabel Nebot Ballester
Hello dear friends. For those who do not know me, my name is Isabel Nebot Ballester, although in my town everyone knows me better as Bel Llisa. I am the president of the social and charitable association “r Solidari”. I was born in Son Servera in 1946, at the end of a war and still under a dictatorship that prevented our freedom.
In a time of extreme poverty during which with a ration book that the Government gave us we could go and seek food, or we supplied ourselves with what the field and the land gave us.
In 1952, when I was only years old, I lost my mother, and although she had an older sister, she married early and moved away from Son Servera, so I was left alone with my father. I had no choice but to leave school to help at home and work.
My father worked on the train tracks and I tried to get some money working in the fields, picking the seasonal olives, almonds, carob beans … But it was still not socially accepted that women worked outside the home, and even less for a young woman.
But in spite of everything and the difficult circumstances, I think he was happy. We did not lack food or a house to sleep in, the only things really necessary in those times, even though everything was scarce.
Of course, we only ate meat at Christmas or Easter, since we did not have enough for more during the year. Little by little Cala Millor, the tourist area of Son Servera, was receiving the first tourists and the first hotels began to be built. So, I was able to start working in a hotel as a chambermaid, in the bar … and then I was able to have my own haberdashery shop, which I had until I retired.
My father was a hard worker and as a child he taught me to be supportive of others. He had nothing to spare, but he was always ready to help anybody. Many times, he came from the orchard with the little he had been able to collect yet when he returned home he was empty-handed because, on the way, he had given it to some neighbour with difficulties.
So I too was brought up to think about others. When my father passed away in 2002 I was left alone. It was the moment when I decided to undertake my first steps in serious charitable work. In 2007 I decided to create the association Son Servera Solidarì when I returned from a mission in Honduras. This had impacted me greatly because of such a precarious situation in that country.
I was there for three months, helping in a nursery of the Sisters of Charity. Extreme poverty, violence, social underdevelopment, 17-member families living in 30 or 40-square-meter wooden shacks, children fighting over a handful of rice .
I experienced such harsh situations that they changed my life and my conscience in how to live life, not because of the harsh reality that I saw, but because in spite of it, those people were happy. They were content to live their experience on earth. Yet we in Spain, in Europe, with the quality of life that we were beginning to enjoy, we were not happy. We only worried about having more and more material wealth, losing the true essence of life – living.
At that moment, then, when I returned from Honduras, weighing 12 kilos less not because of not eating but because of my experiences, I decided I had to continue my mission of helping others. That was when we started our Son Servera Solidari project, with the collaboration of a group of people and the invaluable help of Don Pedro, the parish priest of Son Servera at that time.
So far at Son Servera Solidari we have achieved 14 years of altruistic support-work for the benefit of the most disadvantaged people and groups. Initially, we started collecting clothes, plus food and money for charity in South America and Africa, especially in Honduras and Burundi. We sent them social and health material and contributions to alleviate the underdevelopment of those countries. Meanwhile, we were always also supporting the families of our own municipality who needed it.
It was a beginning full of hope because the situation in our municipality was one of prosperity. But life never knows what shortcut it will take and the arrival of the pandemic in 2020 has changed our current reality. The most urgent needs have appeared in our town, with many families who have been without work for a long time and who have found themselves in a situation of poverty they never expected.
We have tried hard to support them and to alleviate their situation. We started out to help South American and African people and we now end up helping our own local people. This is why we must be all continually be in mutual support of each other because we never know when we may need it ourselves.
With the idea of starting to collect material and money for charitable work, we also started various initiatives which little by little and year after year have already settled in Son Servera and that has allowed us to carry out our task. We have a presence in the local market on Fridays, and in the municipal fairs and markets around us. There is a Solidarity Dinner every summer in the New Church, which has already become a recognised and long-awaited event, along with many other get-togethers.
For 14 years all these activities have allowed to continue with the charitable work of being in mutual support with others and especially helping the most disadvantaged people.
So far we have managed to help thousands of families living in our municipality and we continue to help the peoples of South America and Africa, collaborating with Mallorca Misionera i Cáritas. This is my mission in life.
I am happy like this, and I must thank in a very special way the help that we are currently receiving from the Rotary Club of East Mallorca International. It is an incredible help to us. We are getting some charitable contributions never seen in Son Servera which are helping a lot and showing me that you are excellent people and I’m grateful to those who think of others. Thank you very much from the heart.
In Son Servera Solidari we currently have three centres in Son Servera: The Parish Hall of the Church of San Juan, where we collect clothes and fix them for people in need and for Caritas. This also allows us to go to the market to collect money for the charity. The house on Calle Passió, n. 3, where we receive food given by supportive people like you and to distribute it to families in need.
Today we serve more than 100 people every week. And we use another space on Pere Antoni Servera street that we use as a warehouse. That is the life of Son Servera Solidari, this is my life.
Thank you very much to all.
Bel Nebot Ballester,
Bel Llisa February 2021