Following the presentation made in #Assumpta no. 2 of the origin, the legal dimension and the mission of Assumption Solidarity and the General Office of Solidarity for Development (BGSD), here is a brief presentation of the diversity and specificity of the projects which have been financed. Over the past 25 years, a thousand projects have been carried out thanks to the help received directly from Assumption Solidarity or from other associations and benefactor friends, through the BGSD. These projects have an educational purpose in the broadest sense. They are varied and are related to either works of the Assumption or to those of known local associations and dioceses that are connected with it. They provide a modest “helping hand” to improve living and learning conditions affected by the lack of financial means. They support the development of collective resources, the start-up of new activities that often create employment, and the organisation of specific training courses. People’s involvement in these projects is very important; each project is implemented using a “do with” and not a “do for” approach.
During the first ten years, Assumption Solidarity took charge of the construction of several schools, social centres and parish halls. Since 2006, it has instead financed the restoration and fitting-out of existing premises or those built by other organisations, as well as the provision of teaching and learning materials: books, textbooks, video projectors, computers, etc. Since computers have become indispensable, they are now in great demand.Access to drinking water is a major problem in many countries, particularly in Africa. This problem has been aggravated by climate change which lengthens the dry seasons and by the rapid population growth concentrated around large cities. More and more communities and schools are asking for financial assistance to dig wells and install water towers and cisterns. These facilities provide access to drinking water not only for sisters, teachers and students, but also, as much as possible, for the local inhabitants.
There are also projects involving food. Every year, a significant amount of aid is granted for the creation or improvement of chicken coops, pigsties, hutches, vegetable gardens and market gardening. It is mainly schools, girls’ hostels and religious training centres that apply for this aid in order to improve the daily diet and make it more balanced and less expensive. Some livestock and agricultural projects also have another objective: to create a lucrative activity locally, however modest it may be, in order to contribute to financial independence.
Training and focus on the poorest
Since their creation, Assumption Solidarity and the BGSD have favoured the financing of a wide variety of charitable and Christian training programmes: Bible camps and youth forums in Africa, extracurricular activities in several provinces, apprenticeship workshops and trade schools, catechistic and pastoral training for basic Christian communities, particularly in Central America, Cuba, Mexico, the Philippines, West Africa and Rwanda. The training of women aimed at their “empowerment” by acquiring a certain financial autonomy is one of the most successful projects. Whether they are Adivasi from India or Maya Q’echi from Petén (Guatemala), these women, who realise that they have an important role to play in society, learn how to create lucrative activities to support their families and send their children to school. Many of these projects involve marginalised minorities and poor social groups: “returnee refugees” from the Gaoui camp in Chad, indigenous tribes in India, fishermen from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, farmers who are victims of repression in El Salvador, children and adolescents suffering from drug addictions in Argentina, Pygmies in Cameroon, Batwa in Rwanda, etc.
Ecological commitment in the spirit of ‘Laudato si’
The promotion of its environmental commitment has become a prime objective for the BGSD. In 2015, at its request, all the provinces were invited to send projects which focused on the environment. Sixteen “environmental” projects were financed in this way: shared gardens in Awalwadi (India) and Wostercer (USA), tree plantations in Kibouo-Daloa (Ivory Coast) and Kizono (D.R. of Congo), an awareness campaign against highly polluting open-pit mining in La Rioja (Argentina), the creation of green spaces at the school in Vallecas (Spain), the installation of water-saving taps and toilets in Carrasco (Mexico), rainwater collection tanks in Nyangue (Rwanda) and others. We continue to encourage these types of projects, which contribute to the safeguard of our planet and its biodiversity.
2020 Jubilee Year
To celebrate the BGSD’s 25 years of existence, we had hoped to “blow a celebratory candle” out on 25 projects – a greater number than usual. The redesigned website of the Congregation would have given us the opportunity to make our proposal known to a wider public and to generate new support. But the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic at the end of January 2020 made us fear that it may backfire and have the opposite effect. Indeed, the pandemic created a health emergency situation. On the one hand, it polarized general solidarity, and on the other, the confinement which started with Lent 2020 froze the school and parish activities that usually enable us to collect money. We no longer dared campaigning for donations to finance projects that could have been considered less urgent. Nonetheless, we were overlooking how Divine Providence can surprisingly intervene in the course of life. On December 20th we were able to finance the 25th project! Assumption Solidarity financed 11 projects and 14 others were financed through private donations. We would like to share our amazement at the kind of solidarity that transcends the “urgent”, knows no borders and is open to everyone, as well as to share in our gratitude and thanks.
ALIX DE CHAUMONT
Bureau of Solidarity