Fundación Abrazando Ilusiones
Fundación Abrazando Ilusiones

ABOUT ABRAZANDO ILUSIONES

WE ARE A DIVERSE COMMUNITY
EACH WITH A UNIQUE JOURNEY

Drawing from our firsthand experiences and collective effort, we foster positive youth development and social cohesion.

Our vision

We envision a world where diversity and inclusion are upheld as foundational pillars. A cohesive and peaceful world where everyone can thrive and contribute to society.

Our mission

Our mission is to empower the youth and foster social cohesion. Through steadfast dedication, we aspire to create a lasting impact, grounded in the principles of social equity and sustainable progress.

Aligned with our mission, our initiatives are centered around three cross-cutting areas:

1. Inclusive Learning

We champion education not just as a fundamental human right but also as a catalyst for positive change. Through our social action, we forge inclusive learning environments that provide quality education opportunities for at-risk youth. Our training hub extends this commitment to benefit the broader community through impactful, work-integrated learning programs.

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2. Social Cohesion

Social cohesion serves as the cornerstone upon which a sense of belonging and safety thrives, laying the groundwork for social solidarity and collective strength. Through our dedicated efforts, we aim to nurture a fabric of trust; an environment where individuals and communities have the opportunity to advance collectively towards a future of shared progress.

3. Creative Cooperation

Advancing towards our mission demands more than conventional methodologies; it requires systemic approaches and creative cooperation. By leveraging cross-sector knowledge exchange and collaboration, we not only amplify our capacity to address current interconnected challenges but also lay the foundation for sustained impact.

Our Story

Abrazando Ilusiones Foundation emerged at a time marked by unprecedented youth migration and increasing social polarization. Our journey, and therefore our story, is rooted in a shifting landscape where the once-bridging experience of people on the move became entangled in increasingly divisive rhetoric and associated challenges.

Recognizing the need for action, we chose not to remain bystanders. Driven by our lived experiences and commitment to reshape the (dis)course around youth, migration, and progress, we engage in constructive dialogue and creative cooperation to dispel misconceptions and nurture community well-being. Our story is therefore not just about overcoming adversity; it is about reshaping collective journeys into avenues for empathy, cooperation, and positive change.

OUR Founders

At the core of our Foundation, two inspiring stories intertwine. One encapsulates the essence of resilience, echoing the journeys of many setting forth on migratory paths in search of hope. The other serves as proof of the boundless potential within every young soul for positive impact. Our founders symbolize the power of determination and collective action for social betterment.

Hassane ‘s migratory journey began in 1989, as he left rural Morocco with nothing but a small backpack and dreams for a better future. That same year marked his arrival in Spain. As an undocumented, illiterate adolescent from an ethnic minority, Hassane faced numerous hardships, including homelessness, legal precarity, and language barriers. Encouraged by those who recognized his potential, adversity fueled his determination. From a citrus picker to a street vendor, Hassane took on various roles, eventually leading him to build a career within the Spanish Ministry of Internal Affairs. His contributions within the Asylum and Refugee Office, where he served for +15 years, along with his notable role in high-stakes trials, earned him recognition. Graduating from university at the age of 42, Hassane transitioned to the Spanish General Police Directorate, where his dedication earned him the prestigious 2016 Medal for Police Merit. Shortly after, Hassane co-founded Abrazando Ilusiones —or “Embracing Dreams”— Foundation.

Hassane’s journey has had a big imprint in many, including Leila, a young changemaker enthusiastic about development cooperation and preventive peacebuilding. With a background in economics,  international relations, and security, Leila’s journey has been shaped by firsthand involvements in major humanitarian crises, including the Syrian and the Ukrainian. With experience working in the United Nations and the European Commission, as well as in complex crisis situations, Leila’s path denotes visionary leadership in addressing societal challenges. Beyond her role at the Foundation, she has recently spearheaded other impactful initiatives including Just Open Arms, and contributed to developmental and peace-oriented efforts at the World Investment Forum and the Girl Move Academy.

Our founders

At the core of our Foundation, two inspiring stories intertwine. One encapsulates the essence of resilience, echoing the journeys of many setting forth on migratory paths in search of hope. The other serves as proof of the boundless potential within every young soul for positive social impact. Our founders, along with their youthful aspirations, symbolize the power of determination for social betterment.

Hassane’s migratory journey began in 1989, as he left rural Morocco with nothing but a small backpack and boundless dreams for a brighter future. That same year marked his arrival in Spain. As an undocumented, illiterate adolescent from an ethnic minority, Hassane encountered numerous challenges, including homelessness, language barriers, and legal precariousness. However, encouraged by those who recognized his potential, adversity fueled his determination. From a citrus picker to a street vendor and warehouse laborer, he took on various roles during, eventually leading him to build a career within the Spanish Ministry of Internal Affairs. His contributions within the Asylum and Refugee Office, where he serveed for 16 years, along with his significant role in high-stakes trials, earned him recognition. Graduating from university at the age of 42, Hassane transitioned to the General Police Directorate, where his dedication earned him the prestigious 2016 Medal for Police Merit. In that very year, Hassane co-founded the “Embracing Dreams” Foundation, known as Fundación Abrazando Ilusiones in Spanish.

Hassane’s journey has had a big imprint in many, including Leila, a young changemaker enthusiastic about development cooperation and preventive peacebuilding. With a background in economics, diplomacy, and international security, Leila’s journey has been shaped by firsthand involvements in major humanitarian crises, including the Syrian and the Ukrainian. With experience working in institutions such as the United Nations and the European Commission, and in complex crisis situations, Leila’s path denotes visionary leadership in addressing multifaceted challenges. Beyond her role at the Foundation, she has recently spearheaded other impactful initiatives including Just Open Arms, and contributed to developmental and peace-oriented efforts within the World Investment Forum and Girl Move Academy.

OUR PARTNERS

Our mission is a declaration of intent to tackle complex societal challenges, including social inequity and community fragmentation.
However, we acknowledge that relieving structural issues goes beyond individual efforts and demands cross-sector cooperation.

Our alliances, ranging from philanthropy and governmental bodies to academia and the private sector, propell our capacity to tackle multifaceted challenges. We take pride in our diverse network, each sharing our vision for positive change.

our contributions

Our initiatives are based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals,
targeting a combination of goals in each specific project as we work towards a more inclusive and sustainable future.

learn about our history

About Us

Established in 2016, Abrazando Ilusiones −or “Embracing Dreams”− Foundation is an independent social enterprise committed to fostering positive youth development and societal cohesion.

What sets us apart from traditional charities is our self-sustaining model. We generate income through our training hub and redirect it toward meaningful social action.  Our approach, rooted in creative cooperation, revolves around harnessing resourcefulness to empower young individuals and leveraging networks to achieve a greater impact.

At Abrazando Ilusiones Foundation, we are not only dedicated to creating positive change today but also fostering a ripple effect that resonates for generations to come.

Our team

Hassane Handi

Hassane, our Executive Director, is responsible for the overall strategic direction, leadership, and management of our organization. His role extends to spearheading the Training Hub, a pivotal component to our mission.

Born in Morocco, Hassane embarked on a migratory journey to Spain in pursuit of a better future. He started from the ground up, working as a citrus picker, all while grappling with homelessness, language barriers, and the challenges associated with his undocumented status. However, encouraged by those who saw his potential, adversity only fuelled his resolve.

Hassane’s professional journey eventually positioned him within the Spanish Ministry of Internal Affairs, where he dedicated over 15 years of service. Working within the Asylum and Refugee Office, his contributions extended beyond interpretation to leadership in safeguarding international protection guarantees and engagement in high-stakes legal proceedings. In 2013, he transitioned to the General Police Directorate, where his dedication earned him the prestigious 2016 Medal for Police Merit.

Hassane has co-authored various publications and shares his wealth of knowledge as an associate professor at several universities. Beyond his professional life, Hassane is an avid cook and a farming enthusiast. His journey is a testament to the power of determination and resilience, making him an inspiring leader in our mission for positive change.

Leila Benhaddou

Leila, our Human Rights, Training, and Advocacy Specialist, plays a key role in the successful implementation of our impactful and self-sustaining operating model. Her contributions extend beyond strategic planning and project monitoring, as she is also dedicated to advancing the foundation’s work through advocacy efforts.

Leila’s academic foundation, which includes a double major in Economics and International Relations, along with a master’s degree in Human Security, equips her with relevant knowledge in fields such as development economics, international law, and people-centered security.

Leila’s professional journey spans early involvements at high-level institutions such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the European Commission, as well as hands-on engagements in major humanitarian emergencies, including the Syrian, the Afghan, and the Ukrainian.

Throughout the years, Leila has demonstrated visionary leadership in addressing complex challenges and a strong dedication to generating positive social impact. Beyond her contributions to our mission, she has steered other impactful initiatives in recent years, including Just Open Arms and the “Peace Threety blueprint at Girl Move Academy.

Beyond her professional and academic pursuits, Leila is a sports enthusiast with a passion for beekeeping and immersive travel.

Eduardo Iglesia Kuyumchoglu

Eduardo is our versatile Operations Manager, the engine behind our day-to-day operations. With an academic background as diverse as his life experiences, Eduardo’s journey reflects his global mind and international outlook.

Born in Argentina, Eduardo holds triple citizenship and advanced studies in electronics and creative arts. His rich professional experience includes roles in the IT sector, followed by entrepreneurial endeavors that allowed him to leverage his innovative spirit.

At our Foundation, Eduardo began as a volunteer photographer. Yet, his dedication quickly propelled him into increasingly significant roles. As our Operations Manager, he leverages his technical skills and creativity to ensure the smooth functioning of our social enterprise and drive our mission forward.

Outside of work, Eduardo is a multimedia enthusiast and a self-proclaimed futurist that resonates with Woody Allen’s sentiment: “I am interested in the future because that’s where I am going to spend the rest of my life.”

Agustine Abila

Agustine, our Social Action Specialist, is an invaluable asset to our mission. Originating from Cameroon, her steadfast commitment to empowering disadvantaged individuals and promoting social equity truly embodies our mission.

With a wealth of expertise in fostering positive social impact, Agustine brings extensive knowledge in development, mediation, and project management. At our Foundation, she leads the planning, execution, and evaluation of youth development programs, ensuring they are effectively designed and implemented.

Outside her organizational role, Agustine spearheads other philanthropic endeavors, including the Sawa or Pagnya Association. She is also a gifted novelist pursuing doctoral studies, and she is fluent in French, Spanish, English, and Ewondo— her native language.

Cristina Rodríguez

Cristina, our Training Associate, is a driving force behind our Training Hub. With an extensive track record that includes decade-long engagements at the Spanish Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, she brings a wealth of knowledge to our team. As our Training Associate, Cristina oversees the development of our service portfolio, ensuring its alignment with our mission and contribution to our social business strategy. 

Dorin Stefan

Dorin, our Training Assistant, is a key contributor to our Training Hub programs. Born in Romania, his early fascination with languages led him to become a self-taught linguist at a young age. Proficient in Romanian, Russian, and Spanish, Dorin’s journey took him to Tunisia, where he embraced a new linguistic challenge: mastering the Arabic language.

After completing his master’s studies in Translation and Interpretation, Dorin joined us as a communications intern. His outstanding contributions propelled him to become our training Assistant. Dorin’s drive and empathy are unparalleled, making him an invaluable team member who consistently goes the extra mile to support our mission for positive impact.

Adriana Gimenez Jimenez

Adriana, our Research and Communications Assistant, plays a key role in conducting valuable research to inform our advocacy efforts and managing communications. Holding a double major in International Relations and Global Communication, Adriana brings a multidisciplinary approach to our team. Her dedication to driving positive change extends well beyond our organization. Among others, Adriana serves as the CEO of Opinión20, a digital magazine for youth empowerment and open dialogue.

Zainab Bouhssina

Zainab, our Youth Engagement Coordinator, brings great dynamism to our team. Her enthusiasm, know-how, and cross-cultural competence are instrumental in fostering positive engagement with our young participants. Zainab holds advances studies in Intercultural Communication, Arabic-Spanish Translation, and Interpretation, and her passion for social work became evident through her previous roles as an interpreter and mediator with refugee people.

Verónica Huertas Smolis

Verónica, our Social Integration Specialist, holds advanced degrees in Intercultural Mediation and Contemporary Arab and Islamic Studies. Committed to fostering positive youth development, Verónica contributes valuable expertise in youth inclusion to our Foundation. In her capacity, she is dedicated to guiding and mentoring at-risk youth, facilitating their successful integration into both social and labor spheres.

Justin Tombé

Justin, our Youth Mentor, brings an inspiring personal journey and deep commitment to our mission. Born in Guinea-Bissau, Justin fled conflict as a teenager, facing the hardships associated with being an unaccompanied and undocumented youngster. Yet his determination forged the resilient and charismatic individual he is today. Justin turned to sports to cultivate mental and physical strength, eventually transforming it into his life’s career, where he helps others unlock their full potential. As a sports coach and educator, Justin provides guidance and transformative mentorship for our at-risk youth.

Inés García Al-Achbili

Inés, our Junior Associate/Advisory, holds a Bachelor’s degree in African and Asian Studie, and Master’s degree in Contemporary Arab and Islamic Studies. Her profound interest in Arab socio-politics has taken her to various countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco. In her role, Inés leverages her expertise to drive collaborative initiatives which greatly contribute to our mission.

Diana Dimitru

Diana, our Volunteer Coordinator, holds an important role within our philanthropic efforts, as she not only oversees but also collaborates closely with the volunteers that help propel our mission forward. Born in Romania, Diana holds a master’s degree in Intercultural Communication, Translation, and Interpretation in Public Services, and her passion lies in uniting people for a greater societal good. 

Ruth Cañizares

Ruth, our Finance Manager/Controller, is the guardian of our financial well-being. With over two decades of professional experience in accounting, including five years working within the realm of Foundations, Ruth brings a wealth of financial expertise to our team. In her role, she oversees all financial activities, manages budgeting, and ensures accurate financial reporting. 

Thays Santos de Fez

Thays, our Event Assistant, draws upon her background in administration and communication to spearhead activities that foster engagement among youth and the broader community. Her responsibilities encompass event planning, logistics coordination, and promotional support. In her role, Thays collaborates closely with the Volunteer Coordinator to ensure the successful execution of events in alignment with the Foundation’s mission

Nour

Nour, our Project Assistant, holds advanced studies in Intercultural Communication, Translation, and Interpretation in Public Services. With this strong educational background, she brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to our team, particularly in the field of cross-cultural communication and language services. Her passion for creative cooperation and commitment to our mission make her a valuable asset to our organization.

Thays Santos de Fez

Thays, our Event Assistant, draws upon her background in administration and communication to spearhead activities that foster engagement among youth and the broader community. Her responsibilities encompass event planning, logistics coordination, and promotional support. In her role, Thays collaborates closely with the Volunteer Coordinator to ensure the successful execution of events in alignment with the Foundation’s mission.

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