International Federation of Fe y Alegría meets in Madrid

Between September 28th and October 1st, the XLVII International Fe y Alegría Federation Congress was held in Madrid. It was called “Fe y Alegría, a global movement. We educate on the frontiers”. The meeting, organized by Entreculturas, organization of Fe y Alegría in Spain, addressed topics such as Fe y Alegría’s current and future frontiers, strategies such as the global movement, and the increasingly important approach being done on global citizenship.

Arturo Sosa, sj, Father General of the Society of Jesus, inaugurated the congress highlighting the importance of this international movement in our times of global transformation. Begun in the fertile environment of Abraham and Patricia Reyes’ humble home, and guided by the vision of Father José María Vélaz, this movement is today a magnificent international educational network that connects over a million and a half students in 22 countries around the world, and growing… with no intention of slowing down.

Read here: Father General Speech at the Opening of the FyA Meeting in Madrid  (en Español) (en Français)

The congress was evidence of this plurality thanks to the presence of the national directors from the 22 Fe y Alegría in Latin America, Europe and Africa, together with guests up to almost 400 people, including representatives other 11 countries interested in this global dynamic on education at the frontiers: Kenya, Nigeria, Liberia, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nepal, Camboya, Cuba, Philippines and USA.

The format of the congress was proof that this movement – far from coming to a standstill – continues to dream and experiment with new ideas for community involvement, and that it feels it is an expression of change that is based on diversity and the commitment to an educational project for people that are most vulnerable.

The core of the congress, took place on September 29th and 30th in El Escorial. The opening discussion was led by the Father General of the Society of Jesus, accompanied during the inauguration by Antonio España, sj, the Provincial of Spain; Carlos Fritzen, sj; Coordinator of the International Fe y Alegría Federation and Dani Villanueva, sj, Executive Vice President of Entreculturas. Here are some of their statements:

“‘Fe y Alegría has become an educational network on the frontiers that gives a new face to the apostolate of education of the Society of Jesus.” Arturo Sosa, sj.

“We will have to develop a new style of leadership, be more inspirational when it comes to processes, and less concerned with executing tasks. We must be more dynamic in generating actions to influence public policies that ensure the right to quality education for everyone, everywhere.” Carlos Fritzen, sj.

“Our challenge today is how to adjust our actions to the size of the challenge we face: How to be a truly global network at the service of education for the most vulnerable populations and on the frontiers that are the direst, without losing an iota of depth and impact.” Dani Villanueva, sj.

“I would like to reiterate our commitment as the Society of Jesus in Spain that we continue supporting and fostering the work carried out by networks such as Fe y Alegría which have so greatly influenced – and continue to influence – our understanding of solidarity, commitment and citizenship.”  Antonio España, sj.

Over the weekend the key aspects of the congress were compiled and summarized in its closing document: this included the main conclusions of an active Fe y Alegría, open to innovation and permanent learning on the new frontiers of gender, interculturalism, etc.

Read here: Final Statement International Congress Fe y Alegría 2018

The XLVII congress ‘We Educate on the Frontiers’ was thus brought to a close. It was a special time of reflection and exchanges for the Fe y Alegría network, which, far from taking it easy, gathers the most strength by continuing to ask how and what its contribution should be with regard to education and to the mission of reconciliation and justice. The congress closed with a special call from the Father General in his speech, “Hopefully, in this context of the globalization of environmental, social and spiritual crises, you will know how to keep this visionary and spiritual idea alive and spread specific ways of educating and shaping a global citizenship that will change the world and remind us of the true transformative power that education has when it is put at the service of the most vulnerable.”

For more information:

Miami volunteers defend the right to play

[To see more photos of the March 17th event in Miami, Florida, please click here.]

On March 17th, a group of Friends of Fe y Alegría ambassadors and volunteers organized a charity dinner in Miami, Florida to benefit Fe y Alegría Nicaragua.

With over 90 attendees, including friends, neighbors and people involved with the Ignatian Spirituality Center of Miami (Centro de Espiritualidad Ignaciana de Miami), the event was a success. In particular, we would like to highlight the hard work of six individuals: Guillermo and Vilma Lacayo, Felicidad and Juan Fuentes, and Aridia and Justo Caminero,

“I was educated by the Jesuits in Nicaragua and motivated by their teachings and the joy of serving I felt a moral debt to help others. I firmly believe that education is the fundamental pillar to improve the living conditions of children around the world and that belief moves me and my colleagues to continue helping”, says Guillermo Lacayo, a Friend of Fe y Alegría volunteer, and a member of ‘Amor y Esperanza’, a community  created by three couples at the Ignatian Center. The group comprised of three Nicaraguans, two Dominicans and a Costa Ricanmeet once a month to discuss ideas on how to raise funds to help children in Latin America through Fe y Alegría. The group has been organizing events of this kind for three years now.

Although the main goal of the dinner was to raise funds for a project entitled ‘Right to Play in Nicaragua‘, a project which seeks to ensure that 237 Nicaraguan children at the Cristo Rey Fe y Alegría School in Diriamba appropriately develop their learning and behavior abilities through Fe y Alegría’s play methodology, the group also works to raise awareness about the lack of access to quality and inclusive education that children suffer, and wish to ‘plant a seed’ of commitment in others to join initiatives like this one and continue to helping others.

The event featured moments of emotion, with the reproduction of a short video about Fe y Alegría Nicaragua and with the special participation of Father Marcelino García SJ, director of the Ignatian Spirituality Center in Miami, who spoke about the work of Fe y Alegría: “The Fe y Alegría movement has been around for 63 years, beginning in a small community in Caracas, Venezuela, and growing throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and part of Africa. With its growth, the number of children and youth from disadvantaged and vulnerable communities that receive education has also grown, thus contributing to their social and human development”.

Lacayo also offers a message to people who want to help Fe y Alegría: “I would say that it is worthwhile cause to help children who do not have the same educational opportunities than others. It is also an excellent way to meet more people with similar values ​​and to raise awareness about different problems around the world. If you have the possibility to help, do not hesitate to do so. The satisfaction is priceless”.

We wish to thank our ambassadors and volunteers, the attendants, and all the people who supported this event, especially Father Marcelino García SJ and Tomasso Pensa from Two Brothers Pizza for joining us in the defense of the right to education for all.

Playing permits children to explore, discover and develop their capacities and emotions and to learn about the world around them. If you want to support the right to play of boys and girls in Nicaragua, click here.

Youth Pathways Central America

Diseño sin título

This week, Marco Tulio SJ, the Executive Secretary of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría and member of the Friends of Fe y Alegría in the U.S. team, had the opportunity to participate in a Latin American delegation visiting Youth Build projects in the United States.  Members of the group had the opportunity to share lessons learned, challenges and successes as members of organizations that are working together with at-risk youth to promote employment opportunities through the program “Youth Pathways Central America (YPCA)”.

Youth Pathways  is a binational project in Honduras and El Salvador implemented by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in partnership with Fe y Alegría and Glasswing International with funding from the United States Department of Labor. The goal of the project is to improve the livelihoods of at-risk youth so as to prevent their entry into the worst forms of child labor, hazardous or exploitative work, particularly those linked with criminal activities or illicit groups. To this end, the goal is to increase the participation of children and youth in formal/non-formal education, and to advance employment or self-employment opportunities for them in the future.

The project is made up of three elements: 

  1. Career Connect Clubs.

This is a model implemented by Glasswing International focused on school-age children and young people, aged 14 to 17 years. It involves training processes using participatory methodology developed within the Educational Centers in the project implementation area. The trainings are complementary to their formal studies and are oriented toward different themes: art, sports, music, leadership, communication, robotics, among others. In addition, visits are made to businesses and educational institutions to expand the vision of the future of young people and connect schools with the world of work. Through this process, students’ motivation to continue in the educational system increases as well as their willingness to invest their free time in extracurricular activities.

  1. YouthBuild Program

YouthBuild is a program of integral work with at-risk youth promoted by YouthBuild International and adapted to the Latin American context by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The training process is aimed at supporting young people between the ages of 16 and 20, who are residents of the project implementation areas and who do not have formal jobs or who are currently outside of the education system. The program offers comprehensive training in seven areas: education, community service, life skills, entrepreneurship and savings and loan groups, vocational technical training and leadership, the latter is a cross-cutting element incorporated throughout the training.

Through these interventions, young people develop personal and academic skills that help to narrow the gap in order to find jobs; and provide young people with the ability to combine the option of generating livelihoods through employment or entrepreneurship and continue their education so that they can better cope with the labor market constraints and the context of social violence they face.

  1. Community Youth Connect Centers

The objective of this component is that children, youth and their families benefit from comprehensive protection, support and accompaniment services. Psychosocial care is provided to the participants and their families in situations of special vulnerability. The successful methodology of Strong Families from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is also incorporated, which aims to strengthen communication, relationship and family support skills.

In addition, the Youth Pathways Central America project collaborates with the private and public sectors to assess labor market training needs, the availability of technical and vocational training that fits these needs, strengthening access to programs and opportunities for young people and to achieve better and more accessible employability services.

The project aims to directly serve at least 7,000 people, including young people and families through different service strategies, over a period of approximately three years, between 2016 and 2019. Particular attention is paid to children and youth who have returned to their home country after having tried to migrate to the United States or other countries.

Implementation areas have been identified as those communities with a high level of criminal activity or the presence of illicit groups. In these areas, the services are provided through training centers, community centers or schools. This comprehensive approach strengthens the prevention of young people entering the worst forms of child labor or dangerous and exploitative work, increasing the youth employability; ensuring their job insertion and retention through employment or self-employment; or encouraging them to continue their education in the educational system.