The Marianist Fathers they arrived in the mid 50 years to the neighborhood of the chanca to join the Handmaids of the Poor that from the first years of the post-war they carried out a fundamental mission to combat poverty and illiteracy. They took the powdered milk to the most inaccessible caves and with it the word of God.
The religious went up those lost slopes to give extreme unction to a dying patient or to give the first injections of penicillin, which miraculously cured pneumonia that seemed fatal in need. The work of the nuns and priests was crucial in the hardest years and continued afterwards, when the neighborhood improved. First there were the dispensaries where they treated the wounded, cared for the sick and distributed food, and then came the schools where the religious continued their work.
The neighborhood was changing its appearance with the first asphalt, the first lampposts and new streets, but it still maintained that essence of a remote place where it was possible to find, intact, some forms of life that had already been lost in the rest of the city. That setting was still a neighborhood in its purest form, where it smelled of damp earth, the aroma of food that escaped at noon through the doors of the houses that were always open, and the nearby sweat of children.
Those children from La Chanca used to frequent the fishing port and the San Roque esplanade when they began to run after a ball. The desire of the neighborhood was to have a decent sports facilityeven if it was only a humble clue, an aspiration that did not arrive until the 1970s, when the site of the old factory where the calamine stonewhich had been left abandoned for decades on the edge of the Rambla of La Chanca.
The site, which was owned by the bishopric, was used to build the so-called Virgen de la Chanca Promotion Center, directed by the Marianist Fathers. The project began to take shape in 1972, when The Juan March Foundation approved the donation of five million pesetas to build an educational center in one of the most needy neighborhoods in Almeríabased on a comprehensive report that had been produced by the Parents Melchor, Javier Alcedo and Marino Álvarez, who had been working with the humblest classes for several decades and were perfectly aware of the most urgent needs of the families of La Chanca.
He then city bishop, Manuel Casares Hervasmade available the plot of more than four thousand square meters that he had next to the Rambla de Maromeros and in June 1973 the works began. Fourteen months later, in August 1974, the Virgen de la Chanca Promotion Center was a realitywhich was completed before autumn when the ‘school’ opened its doors so that non-school-age youth and adults could have the possibility of integrating into working life thanks to courses in plumber, plumber, wallpaperer, bricklayer, welder and formworker, which the new center started up.
‘The calamine’, as that facility was baptized, was much more than an educational center. Its opening was a revolution for the inhabitants of the La Chanca neighborhood, which For the first time they could have an educational establishment and sports facilities that the Pescadería area had never had.
The ‘Virgen de la Chanca’ center played a fundamental role in the education of the most humble families. There they organized cycles of sexuality and family planning for generations of young people who had not received any information about it, and who had learned everything on the street. They talked about the venereal diseases and the need to use contraceptive methods.
The popularity of ‘La Calamina’ also came from its sports facilities. The Marianistas set up two tracks that were used as soccer fields. ‘La Calamina’ had that tribal air that characterizes the most popular neighborhoods where children from all walks of life mixed.