The Moroccan seasonal Samia Abou Drai, the quiet force

Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 13:12 Huelva – Every morning at dawn, Samia Abou Drai, 38, pushes her wheelbarrow towards one of the tunnel greenhouses, which stretch as far as the eye can see in this gigantic farm dedicated to the cultivation of strawberries.In the company of Zoubida, her colleague from Oujda, the two women begin, with determination and good humor, a new day of work in the picking of strawberries. Samia is one of the 4,200 Moroccan seasonal workers who have joined red fruit farms in southern Spain since the end of February. An ambitious circular migration program between the Moroccan and Spanish governments, where no less than 14,000 agricultural workers, move each year, in this Andalusian region, during the red fruit picking season.Originally from Sidi Slimane, this proud and courageous Moroccan mother of two teenagers, a girl and a boy, is starting her 4th agricultural season on this family farm. Under the greenhouses which are starting to heat up under this soft spring sun, Samia, with a firm gesture, releases the shoots of the strawberries, in search of the fleshy part of the flower of the fruit. The movements are precise and safe, an experience gained from year to year in this Andalusian farmhouse. In a few minutes, dozens of trays are already filled with this fleshy scarlet red fruit. For Pedro Marin, manager of the inter-professional association of Andalusian red fruit producers (Interfresa), Samia and her Moroccan colleagues working in the collection of strawberries, are a sure bet for the sector. “The chronological trajectory of this collaboration proves, if it is still necessary, that this project is excellent on several levels and that this professional and human relationship testifies to the level of satisfaction of both parties, employees and employers”, he underlines in a declaration to the MAP. The representative of the Andalusian sector recalls that the presence of Moroccan workers was essential to be able to develop this activity during the hard times of the health crisis. “Their presence is a source of pride. It is imperative to highlight the work of these hard-working and courageous women ”, he insists. For the sector, Moroccan seasonal workers, who represent 15% of the personnel of agricultural enterprises, are a quiet but efficient work force. Samia is the perfect example. Behind her shyness, she hides an unsuspected strength and a steel mind. With courage and determination, she faces the job market to assert herself as a woman and provide for her family. Here, the strawberry is a family affair. All the members of this Andalusian smala are on a war footing and work shoulder to shoulder with their employees, of various nationalities. Because in addition to Moroccan women, the farm employs agricultural workers from Romania and Bulgaria. But the owner of the premises does not hide her inclination towards her employees of Moroccan origin. “Samia and her colleague are serious and willful. Even when they finish their working day, they lend us a hand until the truck is fully loaded, ”she says, verbally grateful. Samia immediately sends him back the elevator, showering her employees with praise. “They are humble and courteous to our address. Once a week, the boss accompanies us to do some shopping. When the gas cylinder is flat, he will change it with this footing and refuse to deduct the charges from our pay. We feel safe and we are warmly welcomed here ”, welcomes the agricultural employee. Once the working day is over, Samia takes over the management of the dormitory where she is comfortably accommodated with her compatriot. A small, pleasantly furnished apartment: TV with satellite connection, bathroom and two bedrooms with 4 interposed beds. Each of the two roommates occupies a room. In the living room, Moroccan kitchen utensils adorn the shelves. Teapot, couscoussier… nothing is missing. “We prepare small dishes from home, bread. To tell the truth, apart from our families and our country which we miss terribly, we hardly feel disoriented ”, confides Samia, with a touch of nostalgia. The farm where Samia works is a member of the Prelsi program. This is a social responsibility plan implemented by Interfresa in order to improve the living and working conditions of Moroccan seasonal workers recruited as part of this operation. About 90% of the companies which recruit the Moroccan arms, adhere willingly to this program which requires the respect of certain criteria and obligations with regard to the seasonal ones. Among the flagship actions of this protocol, social support for agricultural workers. Salwa is one of the 11 consultants recruited to work alongside Moroccan day laborers during their stay in Andalusia. Around a glass of steaming tea and an assortment of Moroccan pastry, the three women cut a bib, interspersed with laughter. Frequently, Salwa goes to the seasonal workers to find out about their situation. “We make sure they don’t lack for anything. We come to them and discuss everything and nothing ”, explains the social supervisor. His visits put balm in the heart of Samia and her colleague. “It makes us happy to see a compatriot. Speaking and interacting with her in the Moroccan dialect… It is as if we were receiving a visit from a loved one. It is always welcome ”, testifies Zoubida. In the evening, Samia spends her time fashioning ethnic scarves in sparkling colors. “It’s my favorite hobby”. With her throat tied, she confides that she misses her mother. “I am impatiently awaiting my return to Morocco to take my two children in my arms and see my mother. I will certainly miss this place. We will leave a second family there in a way. But it will only be a goodbye ”, confesses Samia, in a touched voice.