Generous Request: Prisoner in Spain’s Madrid Donates €20,000 to the Red Cross After They Helped Him 25 Years Ago

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The Kurdish prisoner is currently carrying out a six-month sentence in Navalcarnero and owns several hospitality businesses.

A FEW weeks ago, during some of the worst moments of Spain’s pandemic, the director of the Navalcarnero jail, Jose Antonio Garcia Liso, was confronted with a strange yet generous request from one of his inmates.

“I want to donate €20,000 to give back a little bit of everything I have received.” After his initial surprise, the director revised his file and spoke to the inmate.

The prisoner is currently serving a six-month sentence for threats within the domestic sphere and he is due to be released on August 15. “He did not ask me for anything, nor did he minister his crime or excuse himself, he simply explained his story to me,” said the head of the Navalcarnero prison. “The only condition he asked for was to remain anonymous, as he did not want to be known in any way.”

For reading purposes we shall call the inmate Babo, he is 53 years old and has four children, one of who is studying. From his cell, he watched how medical staff were battling against this pandemic with no protection and this is where his idea for a donation came from.

He told Garcia Liso that he could hand over the money to the prison itself, but the director explained that this was not possible. Following the refusal, the inmate organised himself and his €20,000 ended up in the Red Cross bank account, as evidenced by the document that he later delivered to the prison. “They helped me when I had nothing,” explained the prisoner.

Babo (meaning father in Kurdish) is of Kurdish origin, the most persecuted ethnic minority with no real State in the Middle East. He was born and raised in Turkey, working the fields with his five brothers and like millions of other Kurds he was persecuted.

In 1995 he arrived to Ceuta alone and with no resources. He found ‘a mother’ named Ana who was a female member of the Red Cross and provided him with food, a bed and a helping hand to start looking for political asylum.

He worked for five years, with no rest or holidays, in construction and thus began to save to create his now prosperous business. Before the State of Alarm, he had 120 payroll workers employed across his kebab restaurants.

In his talks with the director of the prison and with another official with whom he has an extraordinary relationship, the prisoner expressed his gratitude to Spain, a country that has given him everything and now his children are also Spanish: the eldest is 23 and the youngest 11.

According to the prisoner he already gave €5,000 to the Red Cross when he lived in Ceuta and was starting to do well for himself, he chose the organisation because he knew first-hand the work that the NGO does for immigrants and refugees like him.

Garcia Liso emphasises that the inmate has not asked for anything in return, nor would obtain it. Babo has three more months to serve until his release date and when he leaves, he will continue to run his businesses. Most of the meat used in their business is kept in freezers, however whatever is about to expire shall be sent to Food Banks in Spain.

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Written by

Laura Kemp

Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]


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