Right to education. Opam: “The human factor has been the center of our mission for 50 years”

To celebrate the important anniversary, an international competition entitled “Poetry is a love letter to the world” was launched. Young people from Africa (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Uganda and Togo), Asia (Philippines, India, Indonesia and Myanmar), Latin America (Bolivia and Brazil) and Europe (Albania and Italy) took part. . in several languages ​​(Albanian, Arabic, Bahasa, Burmese, French, English, Italian, Kako, Portuguese, Swahili, Tagalog, and Tamil)

(Photo: Opam)

Born on May 24, 1972 from the intuition of Don Carlo Muratore, theOpam is the first Italian association focused exclusively on the promotion and protection of the right to education, identifying in education and vocational training the privileged tools to free man from misery and restore his denied dignity and radically changing the concept of development cooperation that at that time was was conceived only as a shipment of material aid. In 2000, Don Aldo Martini became president of Opam, with the aim of living the principle of fraternity in reciprocity. In 2018, Fr Robert Kasereka Ngongi, a former child beneficiary of Opam, will arrive as president, as a concrete example of the important fruits of the experience of fraternity and reciprocity lived between North and South. Fifty years after its birth, the countries of the Opera have grown to 82, of which 40 in Africa, 24 in Asia and 19 in Latin America. Aware of the new educational emergency denounced by Pope Francis and the need to humanize the world, Opam today relaunched its commitment to make its contribution to the global education pact.

There are, therefore, 4 words for “a humanity” that identify Opam’s work today: “Education to play a leading role in world history. Share to ensure the application of equal rights and duties. Reciprocity to enhance exchange processes and jointly improve. Fraternity to create strong and indissoluble bonds between peoples ”.

Opam receives proposals for intervention directly from its local contacts and presents them to its supporters in order to fund them. In this way, the supported communities are the protagonists of its development and Opam always manages to operate in a way that is very oriented and appropriate to the contexts. A project can include different types of intervention, recipients and schools. Among the initiatives carried out are distance school adoptions; stable fundraising to ensure continued support for those interventions that need more help, such as school building, teacher support, street teacher training for street children, literacy courses and vocational training for women; global education activities such as training of trainers, educational workshops and twinning between North and South schools, educational projects.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Opam has organized an international poetry competition for northern and southern students on the subject. “Poetry is a love letter to the world”. In the contest, the president of Opam, P. Robert Kasereka Ngongi“Children aged 6 to 12 and young people aged 13 to 18 and a few twenties took part.” A cross-sectional example of humanity that has given us back the image of a generation globally, in some sensible, courageous and responsible way, of other fragile introverts and in search of hope ”. Pending further study of the compositions, which will be the subject of a publication, Don Robert points out “among the recurring themes of African poems, for example, nature and the environment, thought as subjects concrete entities to which the authors have expressed both gratitude, almost gratitude, and concern for their foolish exploitation.A strong, carnal feeling, always far removed from mere sentimentality, which in many works leads to prey. problem and the promise of a protection commitment ”.

The President of Opam continues: “From all countries, albeit for different reasons,

in all works the call for peace emerges very strongly, which in some cases becomes a real cry to stop wars,

with regard to children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. ” In general, “mostly Northern students translated the image of the world within themselves, thus transforming the dialogue with the world into a reflection on its interiority; while the students of the South spoke mostly with the world considering it in their individuality ”. The bishop observes: “Some works show a specific competence and a mastery of poetic language, although in a coherent way at school levels, while in many cases, more than poems, they are a free treatment. A fact that leads us to reflect on the need to value poetry more in school, as poetic language is an instrument par excellence of freedom and at the same time of expressive depth. Poetry is a universal language and a language of dreams. And because everyone has the right to learn to dream, we believe that it is important for poetry to play a more important role in schools. ”

From this first edition of the competition, concludes Don Robert, “we will get an important confirmation: the richness that generates listening to others. I Since, as Pope Francis tells us, the ‘globalization of indifference’ is overcome by a profound conversion of the human heart, we must work to understand globalization. Therefore, we must insist on questioning it, to try to understand it, especially if we want to learn in some way how to govern it. Studying and rewriting it – and not just suffering from it – therefore, the reflection on globalization can only be of an anthropological nature, with the focus, however, on freeing the cultural dimension from the problems of the territory because culture goes beyond the referent. on earth. That is why we believe that the experience of this competition has given us a great deal of background, of which we feel the responsibility of being custodians and bearers ”.

The poems received are about 200 and come from Africa (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Uganda and Togo), Asia (Philippines, India, Indonesia and Myanmar), Latin America (Bolivia and Brazil). ) and Europe (Albania and Italy), in several languages ​​(Albanian, Arabic, Bahasa, Burmese, French, English, Italian, Kako, Portuguese, Swahili, Tagalog, and Tamil). Among the participants were also children belonging to ethnic minorities, such as the children of El Alto in Bolivia and the small Aymara, an ancient Indian village on the Andean plateau; or to discriminated and marginalized social groups such as the Dalits of India. In other cases, they are children and young people living in areas affected by continuous armed attacks, such as in northern Cameroon where Islamic fundamentalists are sowing terror; or young students who today react to violence already suffered, such as the girls of St. Mary’s College in Aboke, Uganda, infamous for the 1996 LRA (Lord Resistent Army) rebels kidnapping a group of girls. A school that today represents a sign of resurrection and hope for the peace and development of the country, devastated for years by the violence of Kony and his army of abducted girls and boys. There are Lakka students, children of victims of the abuses and abuses of a decade of civil war in Sierra Leone, and many children still living in war situations, such as students from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have sent several jobs in North Kivu, Butembo-Beni Territory. Not to mention the children of the Opam schools in Ethiopia who are living the drama of the war with Eritrea; and students from Loikaw, northern Myanmar, on the border with Thailand, who are currently taking refuge in the Inn Tain refugee camp in Shan State, along with the nuns who, as they can, continue to teach despite the Myanmar’s schools have been suspended for two years due to the pandemic and the war.

Children of Western Mindoro in the Philippines who have participated in various jobs are also experiencing situations of violence and insecurity. And students living in difficult situations, of hunger and malnutrition, due to climate change, such as those of Tchèbèbè in Togo and Batouri in Cameroon. And precisely from Batouri came the poem of a 9-year-old boy who identifies the world with cassava, a tuber of firm white pulp, the only source of survival for him and for all those who live where the climate crisis is advancing. non-stop. desertification and therefore famine. Other poems also come from the hells of Brazil’s favelas, particularly two Opam extracurricular centers set up to save street children, prostitution, drug trafficking and the risk of being killed during regular raids to clean up crime neighborhoods. . Finally, another participating center is the extracurricular program for children in the forest of Nita Maumere in Indonesia, where Opam has recently launched its first project to combat fundamentalism, discrimination and poverty.

The awards ceremony, hosted by Radio InBlu2000 journalist Alessandra Giacomucci, will be recorded and available online in early June. The initiative is organized in collaboration with Uciim (Italian Catholic Union of Teachers, Managers, Educators, Trainers), Aib (Italian Library Association) – National Commission of School Libraries, Sir (Religious Information Service), Crbs ( Coordination of school library networks) and Trl Piemont (TorinoReteLibri).

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