Fotografía de Neneta Herrero

Neneta Herrero was born in Vigo and lives in Hío, in Cangas, for the last 30 years. She's a bank teller in the central office of Caixanova in the municipality. She is a mother of two, and a grandmother of three. She has been travelling to this asian country for 25 years.

Why a school and why in India?
I've been going to India for more than 25 years as a tourist. I always wondered in what way I could help, but I didn't really know how. After the cyclone, upon seeing the school destroyed, they were having classes outside, it seemed like I should and could do something. I got in touch with some friends and they all were very supportive. We thought about what would become of these children if they didn't have this opportunity. At least, we were able to give 200 kids the opportunity to change their life. I think that everyone has to contribute their two cents in this chaotic world.

How did you decide to use the name María Soliña?
Various things were influential: that it was feminine, that it was from Cangas and that it was a nonconformist symbol. There, in India, I say that I was a philosopher. They wouldn't understand the inquisition.

What feeling does doing this give you?
A great satisfaction. It changed my life. I used to be a little lost and now I have an objective. I'm doing something that is expected of me as a human being. It isn't a burden at all. I dedicate a lot of time to it, here and there, but I don't consider it work. It's a pleasant and satisfying activity.

How do the village people view you?
They have to see me as a strange one. For the Indians, foreigners are dollars with feet. To avoid that they mistake me as the typical rich person, I make it clear that the school is financed by a group of friends. I try to have the children see me as a friend. I don't allow them to throw themselves at my feet, as they are accustomed to do as a sign of respect. I give them kisses, I play with them. When I took them to the zoo, upon looking at the geese, they said: "Hello friend, how are you?", it's one of the few phrases that they know in spanish, but I don't know if they associate the geese, for them strange creatures, with people like me.

How long are you going to continue as the head of the school?
I'll worry about who will do this when I'm not around. I ask myself what friend could take over. When the students grow up, we will try to prepare them to asume the self-management of the school, but that is a long term plan for the future.

ShangaIndia, 2010      C.I.F: G36500031

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