Fidesco is a Catholic NGO that provides professional volunteers to some of the world’s most challenged communities. Fidesco USA (d/b/a of American Compassion Services) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit charitable organization listed in the Official Catholic Directory.
New volunteers: Dominic and Margaret with children Patrick and Caroline.
Siloe Centre for the Blind, Limpopo, South Africa
Our mission will be serving at the Siloe Centre for the Blind (http://www.siloecentre.co.za). It is a school and vocational center operated by a Polish congregation: the Franciscan Sisters Servants of the Cross. Some of the students at the school are visually impaired and some are sighted, providing a model of integration unique to South Africa. Margaret will teach English and Dominic will develop a farm to feed the students in residence and eventually be a source of revenue for the school. An equally important part of our mission is to live the example of Christian life.
As 2016 is just starting, I was looking back at the past year and all that happened for Fidesco USA. It started with a weekend of discernment and preparation for candidates in January in Larchmont near New York. After additional training in the spring, all candidates joined the worldwide training in Paray Le Monial (France) organized in August by Fidesco. It is always a very rich experience to spend even a few days in the city of the Heart of Jesus. As one of the candidates writes, “during the training we learned so much about our missions and what we will be doing, but there was one thing that stood out to me the most. I was reminded that the main purpose of being a missionary is to serve the Lord and from there on He can provide what I may need.”
We have currently 5 volunteers on mission, including the 4 that just started this past summer. Reading the mission reports from Christine and Ali in Thailand, Katie and Luke in the Philippines, or Pauline in Brazil, I am struck by what they write about the needs of the very poor they are serving. It is not just about food, or medical care, or shelter (and they DO need all of this), but it also love, attention, and the joy of receiving all of this. In return, the volunteers receive lots of joy as well, despite the hard and sometimes apparently never ending work. And they deepen and enrich their prayer life in a unique way. As Saint Vincent de Paul said, the poor are our real masters and teachers, and all Fidesco volunteers are living this.
I hope Fidesco USA will continue to grow and offer the life-changing opportunity of the mission to more Americans this and the following years. After a new discernment weekend in the Fall, we have 5 new candidates who will continue their training in the spring and summer — and we are looking at a possible new discernment weekend in January. I will keep Fidesco USA, its Executive Director and all its volunteers in my prayer this year, and I hope you will do the same!
Alexis (Ali) will join Christine in Thailand as an English teacher. The mission is among the young prostitutes.
Context of the mission
Often young women who come really have the desire to succeed after spending several years in the sex industry. Most of the time, after 6 to 24 months in the center, they change their lives by finding a normal job in Thailand (or sometimes abroad when they find a foreign husband) or by returning to their families in the North.
The clear objective of the sisters is to use all these activities as a pretext to testify about the Christ’s love, while the most part of people is Buddhist. On the spiritual level, as always in Thailand, the Church is discrete and is not ‘propaganda’. Each morning there is however a prayer for all the staff (though there is a non-Christian majority).
Young prostitutes benefit from a pleasant place to share with other women in the same situation, professional courses (hairdressing, massage, computer science, foreign languages, etc.), various activities (psychological support and training on different topics (transmission of HIV, prostitution networks in the world, security, sexuality, drugs, birth control, unwanted pregnancies, etc.). The approach is truly evangelical and takes care of the integral development of the person (physical, psychological, professional, spiritual).
Pauline is now training to become a moderator of social projects and trainer in Redencao, Brasil. She will be participating in projects Sonho de mãe (mom’s dreams) and Bernadette (home of minor prostitutes), in partnership with the local diocese and Bishop Dominique You. She will be coordinating activities, training Brazilian volunteers, visiting homes and preparing communication to publicize these projects.
Katie and Luke are candidates in training for a departure to the Philippines after the August 6 to 12, 2015. Their mission will be at the Quezon City, Philippines. They will be working as a person responsible for purchases and as a nurse.
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