Rome, Italy. On October 17, 2020, the Congregation’s Solidarity and Mission Team joined the commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty by organizing a webinar, with the theme “The Fight against Poverty in the Fragile and Humanitarian Context of COVID-19.” More than one hundred Claretians, lay associates, laity from 32 countries participated. The participants of the 3rd Assembly of SOMI- MICLA also joined this webinar.
The event was moderated by César Augusto Espinoza, CMF (JPIC head of Centroamérica and member of the Coordinating Team of Solidarity and Mission of MICLA). The Congregational Team of SOMI counted the support of a team formed by Stéphane Uyungu CMF (Congo) Gabriel Ponce Carpintero CMF (Fátima) Satheesh Saverimuthu CMF (St. Joseph Vaz).
George Kannanthanam CMF from the Bangalore Province, India, who is a well-known social worker and founder of many humanitarian programs addressed the gathering on “Reasons for Focusing on Poverty Eradication and the ways to do it”. He put forward ten proposals, stating that the congregation must take on the alleviation of poverty with greater radicality, having as its horizon the Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030, which must be incorporated into our congregational agenda.
George further stated: “The problem is not that we do not have enough. The problem is that we do not share enough. There is more food and resources available in the world today than ever before. We do not need a food revolution. We just need better distribution of food. A new civilization of sharing.”
A second speaker in this webinar was Robert Omondi CMF who belongs to the St. Charles Lwanga Independent Delegation of East Africa. He is currently the coordinator of SOMI ACLA (Africa), a passionate justice-seeker and peacebuilder. Robert intervened by presenting “The eradication of poverty as an action of enforceability of rights and construction of social justice”.
Robert posed some questions for the Congregation: How do we reconcile and upgrade the prevalent good ‘Samaritan approach’ to poverty with the prophetic call to engage the deep rooted structural and systemic poverty in our missions? In our congregational set up, how do we frame /package all these efforts to make them an integral part of our formation, contemplation, planning, implementation and evaluation processes of our apostolates? With regard to the eradication of poverty, he invited the Congregation to rethink the mapping and the Claretian presence from the perspective of Poverty and the Incorporation of the human rights based approach in the ecclesiastical framework of the evangelizing action and made few proposals towards achieving it.
Pachi González-Vallarino, a Lay Claretian from Seville, southern Spain, who is a collaborator in PROCLADE BETICA and coordinator of the international volunteer program with the NGO “Entre culturas Fe y Alegría”, also participated as a panelist. She presented the ideas around the Eradication of Poverty from her own volunteering experiences in refugee camps in Sahara, at Bateyes, Dominican Republic where Haitian communities live and in Ecuador. cooperation projects and the search for donors.
She mentioned that a phrase that she heard in a Claretian retreat inspired her to choose volunteering is, “We are a people on the move building tomorrow.”
The last speaker of this Webinar was Diana Gutiérrez, Director of the Global Business for Gender Equality Program of the United Nations Development Program – UNDP, with a decade of experience in the United Nations, including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Colombia as a Project Manager for Inclusive Economic Development. She focused her address on the theme, fighting poverty in this fragile and humanitarian context of COVID-19. She narrated how the COVID-19 has affected not only the health situation but also made great impact on social and economic life. Sighting the UNDP, ILO sources she brought to the attention of all that there will be close to 70 to 100 million people fall into poverty and close 400 million jobs lost before the end of 2020. She presented a 7-point pathway to recovery as choices for the post-COVID future.