Homeless man teaching English in Barcelona bars inundated with help

Hungarian-born Laso is on verge of attaining his goal of flying to London to start a job

Laso with Diego Bernal (right).
Laso with Diego Bernal (right).

A homeless 55-year-old who had begun giving English classes in bars in Barcelona in order to buy a ticket to get to a job in London is on the verge of achieving his goal.

Hungarian-born Laso had spent his life working in the hotel and restaurant industry until an employment swindle last September forced him to use up all his savings and left him sleeping on the street.

“Dozens of people have contacted me to give or lend money to Laso; he didn’t want to accept it Diego Bernal

Refusing to receive handouts from the public, he told his story to 22-year-old good Samaritan Diego Bernal, who subsequently came up with the plan for him to teach language classes in city bars for €7 an hour to earn his fare to London. Aside from his native Hungarian, Laso also speaks fluent English, French, Spanish and Romanian.

Since EL PAÍS published his story, Laso and Bernal have been inundated with offers of help from all over the world. “Dozens of people have contacted me to give or lend money to Laso; he didn’t want to accept it,” Bernal said on Tuesday. “One man offered him €250 to translate some documents into English,” Bernal says.

Laso only wants to accept money for his work and over the last few days has been pruning trees, as well as giving English and French classes in bars.

“He has promised me a weekend in the hotel where he’ll be working Diego Bernal

At one in the morning on Sunday, Laso called Diego from a phone booth: “He told me that he had spoken with the head of the London hotel and that he was offering him a job to start now. He used the €148 he had earned in the last few days to go to Madrid, to the embassy. His passport had been stolen in a hostel – as soon as he gets his documents, he will be off,” Bernal explained.

Laso will be leaving behind almost a dozen students who had reserved classes for this week in bars around Barcelona’s Plaza España. He has said he will call Bernal in a few days from London. “He has promised me a weekend in the hotel where he’ll be working,” Bernal said, smiling. “I only hope that everything goes well and my friend’s nightmare comes to an end.”

English version by Nick Funnell.

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