You are here

Nuevo Hogar Betania in La Linea, Andalucia, Spain

Nuevo Hogar Betania in La Linea, Andalucia, Spain
Click on the image below to watch a video of the work of Nuevo Hogar Betania, described by its founder and director Begoña Arana Álvarez.
In November 2019 she was presentd with the Princess of Girona Award,  The award recognizes young people who, because of their leadership and personal commitment, have achieved successes in the creation and promotion of social projects.

Hogar Betania nowadays 
  • Has a night shelter for the homeless
  • A main residential centre that offers social and legal advice, therapy and education
  • Provides 'reinforcement classes' for children from poor families to help with their school work
  • Offers meals (and cooking lessons) to people who don't have enough to eat
  • Offers a meals on wheels service to over 65s who are poor and have mobility problems
  • Runs a summer school for children whose parents have to work, offering the children breakfast, lunch and a snack, as well as activities
  • Provides social support for victims of human trafficking, prostitution and gender violence
  • Educates about sexual exploitation

The history
La Linea is the Spanish town that borders Gibraltar, on the south coast of Spain. This is one of the poorest areas in Spain and also of the European Union. La Linea is a city with 66 000 inhabitants and unemployment is 46 %. Drugs and alcohol problems are rife. Likewise people living rough on the streets are not uncommon. It is said there are parts of the town where the police don't go, and certainly would not want to go alone.

In 2012 Begona opened a hostel to care for homeless people in the centre of La Linea. Its a support and rehabilitation centre for men and women who are unemployed, have health, drug or other problems and are socially excluded.  Initially she and a small team of volunteers cared for fewer than 20 people - but in 2019 the scope is much larger.   Begoña had spent about 10 years trying to obtain a larger building to accommodate homeless people in La Linea and in 2013 Hogar Betania was given, by the town, a building adjacent to the hospital which can accommodate up to 80 people. She negotiated a 40 year lease with the Town Hall. The building was an old people's home but had been disused for 11 years. It was basically a sound building of 1,100square meters built on 3,100 square metres of land but the roof leaked and it needed to be completely renovated.

Begoña and her small team undertook the task of raising sufficient funds to undertake the renovation work - estimated at about 100,000 Euros - needed to establish The Bethany Home Centre in this derelict building. They received some significant supplies of building materials from Leroy Merlin, the builders' merchant, grants and support from La Caixa and Sotogrande International School, amongst others.

This year, 2013 - 2014, a group of local Rotary Clubs has created a joint project to purchase specific items needed to enable the centre to function. So far we have contributed towards the cost of installing a 3 meter high security fence and electric gates to protect the perimeter of the site,  and doors for the bedrooms. Rotary Club Marbella-Guadamina has provided an industrial quality diswasher and freezer for the kitchen and,  raised the money needed to purchase and install 40 fire-resistant, lockable doors for the bedrooms. We also have an on-going programme to supply food for the Hogar Betania project to feed poor families.
As the photos show, this is a very large and ongoing project. The Security fence was completed in July 2014. Begoña opened the 1st wing of this Hogar Betania Centre, consisting of 20 bedrooms and the dining room and kitchen, in September 2014.

 A project of this size and ambition needed ongoing support  was receiving it from a variety of sources, including  a community of artists, who painted extraordinary murals on the walls. 

The excursion to our project at Hogar Betania at La Linea took place last Saturday, 12th March. 41 persons joined the bus from Marbella. 10 members/guests from our club and an impressive number of 31 from Nordic Rotarians!. President Anders and Paul Church joined us at La Linea.
We were greeted at Hogar Betania by the impressive Begona, who is the “engine” behind the project. She gave a short description of the background of the project and the numbers which use the center today. Approx 600 persons visit the center during weekdays to get food; which is not consumed at the center but taken home; for the people that need support with their daily meals.On Fridays they receive lunch and dinners for the weekend. As far as could be ascertained,  more than 50 % of the rooms are now completed. Priority should be given to get the remaining rooms finished.
It was a great positive surprise that Paul Church could inform us that the sponsors for the first stage of the solar panel project was now secured. When the complete Solar Panel is installed, the saving for Hogar Betania will be € 12 000 per year. 
The pictures below show the progress that has been made; Begona has every reason to look so happy.

2016 Christmas Food Donation - report by Ben Nemenyi

Dear Board Members,
Martina  Spann   and  I  have  delivered  2  car loads  of  essential  food for  Christmas & New  Year  to  Hogar Betania  Center at La Linea today,   
on behalf  of  the  club.  ( Circa  €800  spent). We  also  bought  a  gold  necklace  and  a  small cross  for  the  newly  born baby of Begoña, a present  from our  Club. Attached  to  it  was  a  card  from our  Club  congratulating  mother  for  the  birth  of  the  baby.
The Staff  thanked  the  Club  for  the  food  contribution  and  the  Solar  panels  heating. It was mentioned  that  despite  the  winter, periods  of  sun shine  provide  quite  a  bit  of  hot water to the  showers in the  building. The  place at H/B  looks  almost  completed  and  requires  some  work  on the  electrical  power to  some  of  the  rooms , which  then  can be be  inhabited by more homeless  people.  Some  of  these  persons are currently  brought  in on freezing  nights,  by  the  police , to  provide them a temporary shelter, and  prevent them suffering from hypothermia and  death .
Martina’s help in the purchasing  and  translation  to  and  from Spanish  made the  whole difference  of  expressing  and  understanding the staff  at  Hogar  Betania  and  her  help  was  indispensible.
Ben Nemenyi, Treasurer

New Hogar  Betania  Solar  panel  project.

The Nuevo Hogar Betania project  in La Linea, South of Spain, and one of the poorest communities in the country, commenced  4  years  ago with  the  help  of  the  Rotary clubs  in the  Costa Del Sol, R/C Ceuta  and R/C Gibraltar. A  old  dilapidated  building  which  served  as  a  golden age  people  home  10 years  earlier , was  the  target  of social worker Begoña.  She  has  undertaken  the  massive  task  of  making  this  building  good  and  turn it  to  a  thriving  shelter  for  up to 70 homeless  persons. It  took  3 years  to  carry out  all  repairs,  fit out the  bedrooms  , kitchen  with cocking equipment and refrigeration , furnish  the  dining area  and  make  the  place  habitable again. 

The  Solar panel Project at Nuevo Hogar Betania.

Rotary  Club  Marbella-Guadalmina  in consultation with  Begoña , found  that  the  electricity  bills  must  be high for  heating water  for 70  tenants  of  the  shelter plus the  heated  water  used  in the  kitchen. The  Club  has  asked  architect  Graciela  Waen  to  survey  the  needs  of  heated  water in the  building  and  submit  a plan and an  estimate  for  the  fitting  of a  solar panel  water heating  system. Our club considered the plan which required solar panels costing Euro 48,000 in total.
The project was too large financially for our club and no supporting funds were available from District and Rotary International at the time. In February  2016  the  SPC  committee at our  club decided  to  go  ahead  and  underwrite  half  the  solar panels, as  the  building  was  not  completely refurbished , and  only  half  inhabited, 40 people in number.  The  installation of half  the  number  of  panels  would  serve  the  immediate  needs  for  hot water to the  existing inhabitants.
Funds were raised from events and club member donations and the project costing €24,000 was completed in November 2016.

The  estimated  saving  for  Hogar Betania  on electricity bill  by using  Solar  Heating Panels  is  estimated  at  €5000 annually for  40 inhabitants.  This  saving  enables  management at  Nuevo  Hogar  Betania  to  buy  food  for  the  residents  for  the  same  amount. The  panels  are  environmentally  friendly  and  saves  omitting  gases to the  atmosphere  associated  with  the  production of  electricity using fossil fuel .     
Ben Nemenyi – Treasurer,  Rotary Club  Marbella-Guadalmina
M +44(0)7802 776599