The reason I decided to travel to Perú and Bolivia during my summer vacation in Paraguay is quite simple: to encounter the real situation in the Edmund Rice Development Projects in Latin America.
Edmund Rice offered education to the neglected children of Waterford as the pathway to self-confidence, mutual respect and generous service to others. Liberation from the slavery of oppression of various kinds is the goal of true development. The projects supported by ERD are evidence of such development.
Material poverty is the most significant kind of poverty in an unequal and unjust world and is the template for all other kinds of poverty. For that reason dedication to the eradication of poverty through education, advocacy and capacity building is essential to the mission of the global Edmund Rice movement. The vulnerability of encountering people made poor has long-term healing effects because humans are made for community. The approach in Perú and Bolivia is respectful community building. This is a slow process of development but the fruits are abundant. ERD, in my view, is essentially at the service of those made poor. That attitude or stance is worth embracing.
There are currently 17 Brothers of various ages, cultures and language communities in the Latin America Mission Area. The spirit of HOPE is palpable among the Brothers. It’s not a matter of wishful thinking, optimism, or a ‘glass half full’ approach. No, it is rather the deep conviction that no matter what may happen, there will always be a transforming presence of compassion and love that will never, ever fade away.
One Brother in his 80’s exemplifies that spirit for me. His way of serving is by welcoming young adults who are Transitioning into his home and with them creating an accepting and nurturing community. Respect for Gender Identity is a value this Brother enthusiastically promotes, despite being brought up with very different priorities and prejudices. The number of Christian Brothers seems to be dwindling, but the legacy of the Brothers lives on among women and men who have embodied his spirit of compassion, liberation and presence.
The promotion of Human Dignity is the goal of ERD and I am most grateful for the opportunity to witness that in the projects I visited recently.
Edmund Rice Development is a registered company limited by guarantee. Registered in Ireland, Registered Charity Number: 20071004, Company Number: 463400, Revenue Charitable Tax Exemption Number: CHY18492, Registered Address: 23 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, D02 AR55.
Edmund Rice Development is a registered company limited by guarantee registered in the UK & Wales, Charity Reg. No. 1098358, Co. Reg. No: 4229228, Registered Address: 3rd Floor, New Oxford House, 75 Dale St, Liverpool L2 2HT, England.