“We have to choose between eating or warming up and the priority is clear”

“We have to choose between eating or warming up and the priority is clear”

“We have to choose between eating or warming up and the priority is clear”

Jina, along with two of her daughters, lives in an apartment in Paterna without a stove.
Francisco Calabuig

Jina is 32 years old and has five daughters under the age of ten. She lives with them, with her husband and with her mother in their home in Paterna. Since they arrived in Spain two years ago they juggle to bear all the monthly expenses since their income is “few and very unstable”. In winter their situation worsens because they have to debate whether to eat or warm up.

It is called energy poverty and affects 16% of the Spanish population and 170,000 children in the Valencian Community, according to data from Save The Children. “We cook with a bottle of butane for the eight of us,” says the woman, who points out that for a couple of days, when the cold began, they noticed more the increased energy needs that they cannot meet.

They do not have a stove. It is an expense that is out of your calculations. “You have to heat the food, which can be cold in summer, you have to bathe with hot water and heat the house as much as possible, but we can’t do everything. It is eating or heating the home and the first is always the priority “, clarifies. Blankets, patience and lots of love is Jina’s answer to her problems. “As we do not have a fixed income (Jina does not have a job and her husband is a delivery man sporadically) we cannot commit to pay fixed expenses, that is why we use butane for cooking, otherwise The invoice of light it could go off “, bill. “We reduce as much as we can” he adds. Jina and her family are waiting for the Valencian Income for Inclusion. “Once we have it, we will ask for energy assistance, we need it.” For their part, Ñaña, her husband and their three children fear the arrival of winter and the possible expenses. “We are afraid of using a lot of light because we cannot control the cost, we live with minimums, more now in winter.”

A social pricing

In the Valencian Community, the 35% of boys and girls (310,000 children) are found in poverty and 19% in a situation of severe material deprivation, in which assuming the cost of energy is very complicated, according to Save The Children.

Rodrigo Hernández, the NGO delegate in the Valencian Community, asks for a social rate, which is not based on the hours of consumption. “You cannot shower your children at night because that is when you can pay for the electricity. Children need energy and many families have to ration it to limits that can impact the lives of minors, “says the entity’s spokesperson.” This is accentuated in winter and in summer, many families go to the shopping center to spend the afternoon for they are cool in summer or warm in winter “.

For this reason, Hernández insists on the need for aid to reach “all families”, “that there are no power outages and extend the social shield.” Finally, he insists that bureaucratic and management tempos go against those of childhood. “A child does not make up for a year in which he has been cold,” he concludes.

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