Emergency Response: Earthquake in Andahuaylillas, Peru

4.4 magnitude earthquake in Andahuaylillas, Peru leave rural community in need of support.

In the morning hours of Tuesday, April 30th, a magnitude 4.4 earthquake struck the district of Andahuaylillas, located in the province of Quispicanchi, Cusco. This initial quake caused significant damage to buildings in the area and an estimated 50+ aftershocks in the following days have further complicated the situation. 

While no casualties are reported, news sources in Peru indicate that the quakes have caused significant material damages in the area including Church of San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas, often referred to as the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Americas’, which was built by the Jesuits from 1570 to 1606.  As of May 8th, the Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in the Quispicanchi Province, due to the series of earthquakes that have affected the localities of Andahuaylillas, Huaro, Lucre and Urcos. This measure will have a duration of 60 days and, importantly, has closed schools in the area. 

 

Situation on the ground:

Through Fe y Alegria International (FIFyA) and our partners at Fe y Alegría Perú, we have learned that the Colegio San Ignacio – Fe y Alegría N* 44 in Andahuaylillas has suffered extensive structural damage. The INDECI (National Institute of Civil Defense), responsible for risk and disaster management, has officially declared the school unfit for use due to the potential danger it poses to students until necessary repairs are completed. As a result, more than 840 students will have to return to remote learning even if the state of emergency is lifted. 

At the same time, many homes in the area have been damaged. Fe y Alegría Perú has indicated that 102 families in the area are in need of tents for temporary shelter. While the local government is responding to immediate needs, the school community has reached out for assistance from the international community. 

 

What Can You Do?

Magis Americas is seeking immediate donations so that we may provide support to the Fe y Alegría community in their time of need. Your donation can provide vital relief to those grappling with the aftermath of the earthquake. Partnering with Fe y Alegría Perú, your support will directly address the needs of the community and hasten the return to in-person school for the children.

Visit our donation page to contribute towards rebuilding lives and restoring hope for the affected families and students in Peru. Your generosity will make a tangible difference in their journey towards recovery.

Donate here! Peru Emergency 2024

 

The “Integral Ecology” of Fe y Alegría

“We must learn to take care of our Common Home, the way we are doing it today is not working. There is a need to take on an ecological approach that transforms our way of inhabiting the world, our lifestyles, our relationship with the earth’s resources and, in general, our way of seeing human beings and living life.”

(Pan Amazonian Meeting FyA 2021)


 A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Irma Mariño, leader of Fe y Alegría’s Integral Ecology and Pan Amazon Initiative. This initiative is working to unite and accompany the many diverse elements of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría, or Fe y Alegría International, in their response to one of our world’s most pressing challenges: Care for our Common Home. Pope Francis drew our attention to the importance of this cause in 2015 with his Encyclical Laudato Sí and the Jesuits have identified the same in their Universal Apostolic Preferences. From the perspective of Fe y Alegría (FyA), Irma and the other members of this initiative are doing their part to respond to this call to action and inspire the entire FyA community to join them. According to Irma, “The consequences for present and future generations are quite serious, they are very worrisome. Here, from the educational and community sphere, Fe y Alegría has an important voice.”

Since 2018, FyA has used this voice to call attention to the importance of caring for our Common Home. During the first few years the “For the Pan-Amazon” project team organized their efforts around three themes: intercultural education, intercultural bilingual education, and care for the Common Home. In 2021, FyA identified 12 federation initiatives that “unite the “horizontal” with the “vertical” dimension of institutional governance”, and transformed this working group into a global initiative for all of FyA. 

 As the group began to consider their role as a core initiative of Fe y Alegría International, the diversity of experience and action of FyA around ecology came into focus. This led the group to place new focus on a vision of “integral Ecology” that could unite the International Federation. “We placed more weight on integral ecology because of the challenge of universality in the Movement as a whole,” says Irma “Without losing our inspiration, our wellspring which are the Amazonian worlds… Now we must also speak of the basins of Africa. This was, for us, a new challenge; to look more globally.” 

The diversity and transversality of this initiative is both a great promise and a major challenge, similar to the danger of climate change at a global level. Every person contributes to the care of our Common Home, positively or negatively, regardless of whether we live in a city in North America or a village in the Amazon. This “transversality” means that the Integral Ecology and Pan Amazon Initiative has implications for the entire Fe y Alegría Movement. “Integral ecology has to be a transversal axis in all the actions of this federative movement,” explains Irma “At all levels. From the most directive level, but also in the diversity of Fe y Alegría’s presence. The International Federation is not only in schools. It is also present in social centers and other institutions. Integral ecology must be present in everything. Promoting strategic processes and actions in institutional and pedagogical management, in coexistence and new leadership, in the capacity for alliances and local, regional and international impact.”

In order to understand the role that each of us has in this transversal, integral approach to ecology, Irma explained that we must begin by contemplating our own reality to see ourselves in this mission. “We learn to read our environment in all of its dimensions. To connect. To feel and understand our world.” Irma explains, “To see and show what is happening in our world. The pain. The struggle. The hope… to see life in all its complexity.” From this contemplation we can better understand our own role in integral ecology and the challenge of promoting an ecological citizenship that cares for the common home. Utilizing the education resources that the Initiative has developed for all age groups, advocating for ecologically responsible policies locally and globally, or simply taking personal steps to be more sustainable, Integral ecology begins with personal and communal reflection. This leads us to action. To set out to transform situations that threaten the fullness of life, including deforestation, illegal mining, contamination of rivers and water sources, as well as the murder of land and environmental defenders. 

At the same time, integral ecology must lead us to dialogue and collaboration. “We need to dialogue with others, build and generate a network, a fabric of alliances. This means a willingness to be open,” explains Irma. For its part, the initiative has convened several virtual and in-person meetings since 2021 to discuss the challenges and opportunities of Fe y Alegría in the area of care for the Common Home and the Pan Amazon. This process of dialogue and reflection has led the initiative to produce a Reference Framework for Integral Ecology.

In February 2024, Irma and her team presented this new framework for the initiative entitled “Learning Together to Care for Our Common Home” to the national directors of Fe y Alegría. This document, which will be published in the coming months, captures the history of this initiative and proposes an ambitious path for its global, integral work in the International Federation. In its conceptual framework, the document offers a review of integral ecology, based on the encyclical Laudato Sí and the documents produced around the Synod for the Amazon. On this basis, it goes on to offer approaches that illuminate the experience, practices and processes promoted by the Initiative, and proposes educational processes that will guide the incorporation of integral ecology in the various areas of the Federation.

In addition to all the practical and guiding elements of the new framework, the document also serves as a call to the entire Movement. As Irma explained in our conversation, this initiative is all inclusive and the entire educational community is involved. According to her, integral ecology must go beyond our classrooms; it has to leave the playground of our schools and become a purpose for the whole community. The document describes it this way: “Incorporating the family and the community in the process of building ecological citizenship goes beyond the boundaries of the classroom, extending the connection of friendship, care, fraternity and collaboration beyond the school environment.”


 

On April 22, we commemorate Earth Day. On this occasion, we give thanks for the work of Irma, her entire team of the Integral Ecology and Pan Amazon Initiative, and all the members of Fe y Alegría who incorporate this vision in their daily work. We believe that education is a tool for social transformation and, by incorporating integral ecology in our educational communities, we take another step towards a sustainable and just society for all.

 

Fe y Alegría continues to grow

It started with one community. 

Fr. José María Vélaz, SJ—a  Chilean priest living in Venezuela—was visiting Catia, a marginalized neighborhood on the outskirts of Caracas. In conversation, he asked members of the community what they needed most. Their answer? A school. With that, Fe y Alegría was born. 

There was no 10-point business plan. Fe y Alegría was never intended to grow beyond the borders of Venezuela. It started with one school back in 1955. But people—first around the region and then around the globe—were and still are inspired by the school’s vision of inclusive and transformative education. The dream grew, slowly and organically, from a single school to an international movement in over 22 countries and counting.

Fe y Alegría first expanded beyond the borders of Venezuela in 1964 when a school was opened in Ecuador. Over the following decade, communities in seven additional Latin American countries would also begin adapting and implementing the Fe y Alegría model. These are some of the “classic” Fe y Alegría offices that many people associate the movement with–Bolivia, Peru, the Dominican Republic. These offices hold a vast majority of Fe y Alegría’s formal education centers, as they were founded at a time of great educational need in the region . Each country adapted the model to their context, but the origins, tradition, and importance of these “classic” Fe y Alegría offices laid the foundation for continued growth on “New Frontiers” in the decades that followed.

This growth–from Venezuela to Ecuador to Panama, and so on–was quite organic in nature and really depended on people to push its movement forward. Religious congregations, lay people, and marginalized communities came together and worked in collaboration to address situations of injustice and poverty in their communities, with education at the heart of their vision of change. It wasn’t until 1987 that these disparate Fe y Alegría offices formally united in  an overarching body, a common platform to help them coordinate transnational efforts and interests.

Since the creation of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría–or Fe y Alegría International–in 2016, responsibility for the growth of the movement has been coordinated by this single body.  One of the four priority areas of Fe y Alegría International since its formation has been to identify  “New Frontiers” for the movement. Time, personnel, and resources have been dedicated to strategically planning the growth of the movement, both in terms of geographic presence as well as in thematic priorities. For example, Fe y Alegría’s is expanding globally in places like Guyana, Nepal, and Guinea and the Federation is also expanding their work for justice in areas such as migration and child safeguarding. All of this growth is due in no small part to Fe y Alegría International’s commitment to “New Frontiers” as a priority area.

Today, this area focuses on three main tasks:

  • Develop new initiatives that contribute to the social, cultural, and labor insertion of people who are victims of violence, discrimination, or new forms of social exclusion. This is done in countries where Fe y Alegría is already present.
  • Study, promote, and accompany the creation and strengthening of Fe y Alegría in new countries, enriching the socio-educational proposal of Fe y Alegría according to contexts and cultures, prioritizing the places where there is greater need or exclusion. This is done in places where Fe y Alegría is not yet present or has recently begun operations.
  • Promote the institutional mission by attending to the development of new topics for reflection and responding to the challenges of the context for action. This includes topics such as education in emergency due to the post-COVID-19 health crisis, humanitarian aid, spirituality, and care for our common home.

All of this work to internationalize and grow Fe y Alegría is dependent on people. That is the beauty of the Fe y Alegría story; it has always been about people: Fr. Vélaz who listened to the needs of the community in Catia Caracas and responded to their desire for a new school;  Abraham & Patricia Reyes, who donated half their home to start that first school and supported the vision of Fr. Vélaz in so many ways;  The community in Ecuador who first adapted the Fe y Alegría model for a new cultural, geopolitical context and expanded the movement beyond the borders of Venezuela.

People like Ernesto and Leocadia are part of that story as well. Their desire to further their education and transform their lives and communities are just two examples of how Fe y Alegría continues to expand its presence at the margins. In countries like Cuba and Mexico in Latin America, Angola and Kenya in Africa, and Cambodia and Nepal in Asia.

You and I are also part of that story. Fe y Alegría was built and continues to grow through the solidarity of many. Your support of Magis Americas contributes to the lives of individuals like Ernesto and Leocadia. Your support allows us to accompany Fe y Alegría in places like Batey Lechería in the Dominican Republic, San Javier del Valle in Venezuela, and San Pedro in Paraguay.

On behalf of all of the Ernestos and Leocadias out there, thank you for being a part of the story.