Belem: a Seminar that went Beyond Expectations

One-hundred twenty-five participants from all over Brazil, at the Formation Seminar on Cooperation Projects for Development

Belem: a Seminar that went Beyond Expectations


As Leo Andringa earlier announced on this site, from Jan. 30 - Feb. 6, 2010, the first "Formation Seminar on Cooperation Projects for Development took place in the small town of "Mariapolis Gloria", in Belem, Brazil. The seminar was organized and carried out together with the non-profits Action for a United World (AMU), Action for New Families´ (AFN) Adoption at a Distance, the International Commission of the Economy of Communion (EoC) and Youth for a United World (GMU). The seminar was appropriately held in Brazil, remembering that since the beginning of the Focolare Movement´s spread, the start of social works was one of the country´s characteristics. On this fertile ground, the work of AMU took hold with projects of integrated development (for example, the Magnificat project in Maranhão) by AFN, with support through Adoption at a Distance (for example, the Santa Maria School in Recife), the timely interventions of the Youth for a United World in emergency situations, and the EoC´s creation of new jobs and support given for families in need.

The seminar was attended by 125 people, coming from all over Brazil, with various qualifications and professional experience and lots of expectations. There were two main goals: come together to bring about a culture of development and cooperation that is characterized by reciprocity, identifying how the characteristics originating from Chiara Lubich´s charism influence particular behavior in this field; and contribute to forming local workers with the ability necessary to elaborate and manage development and assistence projects.


The presentations by various experts - Brazilian and European  - brought out the specific contribution that Chiara Lubich´s charism manifests in the social and civil spheres. The main themes discussed - through lessons, workshops, visits Seminario_Belem_2010_03_ridand exercises - dealt with the following: Brazil, Globalization and Market Logic; Who are the Poor; The Novalty of the Encyclical "Caritas in Veritate"; Cooperation to Development "of Communion"; Projection of Development Interventions; Microcredit and Reciprocity; Building up of Partners and Research Funds. Leo Andringa revealed the importance of creating new businesses in the EoC industrial parks, the reciprocity in helping those in need and of microcredit. Instead, Stefano Comazzi gave a presentation on "The Projection of Development Interventions" which reflected the experience of reciprocity made by AMU in Brazil and in other parts of the world in these years, in the projects brought about with those in need and not for them. Andrea Turatti underlined how Adoption at a Distance of AFN is solidarity that educates people in reciprocity, with a pedagogy of "hope" that begins with children and changes the social life of families. Someone commented: "We have the possibility to experience this development of communion with greater consciousness - that which the Pope proposed in Caritas in Veritate."

Seminario_Belem_2010_04_ridAn integral part of the program was the visits to the social projects Benevides (Goodlife) and to Isola Mosqueiro (Mosquito Island) in the estuary region of the Amazon River, where the indigenous "ribeirinha" population, black and white, makes up one of the most expressive contingents of the Amazon region.

The seminar was characterized throughout each session by an open and focused dialogue, which lead to deep sharing. Beautiful and significant experiences enriched mutual relationships and communion. The participation of the youth was precise and concrete: their interest in the topics presented grew day by day. Putting their abilities at the service of all, and in a short amount of time, they came up with ideas and held a workshop open to everyone on communication and the presenation of projects to public opinion.

one of the most interesting results of the seminar was the proposal made by participants to create a network of associations and development projects, in order to deepen the sharing of experiences, of professions, of knowledge and opportunities to give aid. In just one evening, a group of youth had already set up the website that will keep all the nation-wide projects underway connected and "on-line".

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