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We have History…

1. Maybe this spark will catch fire: A work is born

José María Vélaz

Whoever, by living in love serving their brothers and sisters, already lives happiness on earth. -Father José María Vélaz (The Growth of Fe y Alegría, 1981)

José María Vélaz, s.j. (†1985) is the founder of Fe y Alegría. He was born in Chile, where he lived his first ten years. That time strongly marked his life with the profound sensibility of a Latin American.

From the time of his education he attended schools of the Society of Jesus, where he continued his preparation until he became a Jesuit member. In 1946 he was sent to Venezuela, a country marked at that time by inequality and illiteracy; Father Vélaz dreamed about a network of schools in the most forgotten places in that country; his motivation led him to seek allies in a young university and he began his work with the communities in 1960. The collaborators went with Faith and returned with Joy, and thus gave the name to this educational work Fe y Alegría.

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All great works are born from processes which have touched the innermost fibres of the human being. José María Vélaz is no exception. Chilean by birth and from a Spanish family. When he was a child he had to leave with his mother for the peninsula, where his education was linked to the schools of the Society of Jesus.

In his youth, after some years at university, he opted to become a member of this religious congregation and from then on, like the founder of the order (Saint Ignatius of Loyola), he would become a pilgrim and a builder of hope. In 1946, José was assigned to Venezuela when he was 36 years old and he had already been a Jesuit for 18 years.

The reality experienced in Latin America would soon mark a new itinerary in his mission. Get in touch with poverty and the scandalous conditions of marginalisation and exclusion of most of the country’s population would challenge him in a definitive way. While working at the Colegio San José in Mérida, he began his first experiments, which would eventually lead to the creation of a network of schools on the outskirts of the cities and in rural areas. It was in 1960 when this network was named “Fe y Alegría”. Vélaz easily fits the profile of a man of the cloth and saviour of the underprivileged. However, the work of this particular Jesuit was to channel the legitimate demands and yearnings of the poor. Not a single one of these schools would have been possible without the determination of the beneficiaries to carry out the project.

All those parents and all those children were the real managers of one of the most important educational works in Latin America and which today extends around the world.

Abraham Reyes and Patricia García

“If I keep it, it will be my eight children’s home. But if we make it a school, it will be the home of all the children in the neighbourhood” -Abraham Reyes

In memory of this exciting story, the name of those who could be considered as the true founders of Fe y Alegría is preserved, a married couple;  Abrahán Reyes a worker and his wife Patricia García. Father José María Vélaz and his group of collaborators travelled through the suburbs looking for a place to establish the first school, until they met these people, who were the first to give up their little ranch so that it could become the first school.

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It is said that Abraham and his wife had been building the walls of their home for eight long years, and the day they were told about  a school and education for the children, they handed over those walls and that roof with no greater ceremony than their own happiness. There was no inauguration ceremony, no red ribbon with its little bow to be cut, no commemorative plaque.

The Kings’ gesture was only the beginning, as other families would join the epic journey that made Fe y Alegría possible. A forceful response to a society and a state that had forgotten them. A commitment to freedom through education. Vélaz, who had been linked to the Catholic University, created together with a group of university students, the first contingent of people willing to dream together with the people. This is the other half of a success story. Nothing is really possible and lasting if the greatest number of actors have not been involved in a profound transformation of the reality.

The first years of Fe y Alegría would have the virtue of calling together all those who let themselves be touched by the tasks of Christian service. An authentic sign of the realisation of the Kingdom of God now and in our midst.

2. Fe y Alegría begins where the asphalt ends: the Movement.

Latin America

Fe y Alegría was born in Venezuela in 1955. Nine years later, in 1964, there were already 10,000 students in Venezuela and the acceptance of the experience allowed the model to be replicated in other countries with a similar response. Within two years, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Central America and Colombia joined the adventure. Since then, the experience would continue growing and multiplying hopes in the most secret and deepest corners of the Americas. From there, one of the most famous phrases of the educational movement would be coined: “Fe y Alegría begins where the asphalt ends, where the drinking water does not drip, where the city loses its name”.

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All great works are born from processes which have touched the innermost fibres of the human being. José María Vélaz is no exception. Chilean by birth and from a Spanish family; when he was a child he had to leave with his mother for the peninsula, where his education was linked to the schools of the Society of Jesus.

In his youth, after some years at university, he opted to become a member of this religious congregation and from then on, like the founder of the order (Saint Ignatius of Loyola), he would become a pilgrim and a builder of hope. In 1946, José was assigned to Venezuela when he was 36 years old and he had already been a Jesuit for 18 years.

The reality experienced in Latin America would soon mark a new itinerary in his mission. Get in touch with poverty and the scandalous conditions of marginalisation and exclusion of most of the country’s population would challenge him in a definitive way. While working at the Colegio San José in Mérida, he began his first experiments, which would eventually lead to the creation of a network of schools on the outskirts of the cities and in rural areas. It was in 1960 when this network was named “Fe y Alegría”. Vélaz easily fits the profile of a man of the cloth and saviour of the underprivileged. However, the work of this Jesuit was to channel the legitimate demands and yearnings of the poor. Not a single one of these schools would have been possible without the determination of the beneficiaries to carry out the project.

All those parents and all those children were the real managers of one of the most important educational works in Latin America and which today extends around the world.

Europe

Fe y Alegría’s experience spread not only in Latin America, but it was also welcomed in Europe, specifically in Spain with Entre Culturas and in Italy; even though its particular working and mission style.

Spain

In 1962, as it was suggested by Fr. José María Vélaz, with the support of the Provincial of Loyola, the Secretariat of Fe y Alegría was set up in Pamplona. However, it was not until 1985 that Fe y Alegría Spain was registered as an NGO. Today, Entreculturas Fe y Alegría España, together with Alboan, the Jesuit NGO in Euskadi and Navarra, has deployed a common strategic framework focused on five fair causes:

 

1. The guarantee of the universal right to quality education.

2. The defence of the dignified life of migrants and refugees.

3. The promotion of socio-environmental justice.

4. Strengthening participation and global citizenship.

5. The promotion of gender equity.

 

Entreculturas defends these five fair causes through cooperation projects, mainly with the Fe y Alegría network to which it belongs and the Jesuit Refugee Service, and also through awareness-raising and political advocacy actions, volunteer programmes, communication campaigns and educational programmes, weaving networks for change with other partner organisations, companies, educational centres and multiple strategic allies.

Italy

Considering the social changes due to the high immigration and with the dream to offer to migrants the possibility to continue their studies, the sisters Pilar and Narcisa Soria with Fathers Valentin Mendendendez S.J. and Gerardo Arango S.J. and with the blessing of father Kolvenbach S.J. Superior of the Society of Jesus, they activate the socio-educational organisation that made possible to inaugurate, on September 16th 2001 in Rome, the first school thanks to an agreement with IRFEYAL – Ecuador, one of the popular schools of the network of FE Y ALEGRIA, that guarantees through the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education the recognition in Italy of the title awarded. Thanks to the Andres Bello Agreement, this programme allows people who have studied in Ecuador and also in Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Spain, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic and Venezuela to continue their studies.

 

This first result represented, as Father José María Vélaz, S.J.(†) had said, “the spark that caught fire” because a new one was opened in Milan and a year later in Genoa.

 

A team of highly qualified teachers was created, with an admirable capacity for dedication. They come from Italy, Latin America and Spain. Some subjects are taught in Italian and others in Spanish. Lay and consecrated people and various religious congregations collaborate in this dream.

 

From the beginning, the Rome branch has been in charge of an educational project in the Rebibbia prison. At the beginning it was a secondary school for Latin American prisoners and over the years it has evolved into Spanish courses.

 

Fe y Alegría has become a structured network, made up of three social cooperatives, Fe y Alegría Genoa, Fe y Alegría Milan and Fe y Alegría Rome. New projects have been born that have strengthened the Primary and Secondary school for young people and adults: Education for global citizenship, Spanish in prison, Italian courses, English, ECDL (European Computer Driving License), hair stylist, tailoring; orientation and training for work.

 

Fe y Alegria Italia is constantly evolving in response to the current need to build an inclusive multicultural society through education.

Africa

Fe y Alegría was born in Africa in 2007 in Chad with a rural network of schools in the Guera region, whose population is mainly Muslim, with the support of the Chadian state education authorities. This founding spirit was later extended to Madagascar in 2013, and the next year to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

The first International Congress of Fe y Alegría Africa, held in January 2016 in N’djamena, was an opportunity to make the mission and vision of the Movement known to the large Jesuit family of the African continent, and to enthuse other countries such as Guinea-Conakry, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Kenya.

3. Global Network

Federation Priorities Plan

The International Federation of Fe y Alegría was born in 1987 aiming to consolidate a much more coordinated work, marking and maintaining a common line of action. To this end, we are committed to a model of PRIORITY PLANNING that will summon and guide us as a Movement, energise our collective journey, and offer us elements to evaluate our praxis. This model, which we reaffirm today, is articulated in a network and is energised by initiatives that emerge from the countries with decentralised management bodies and federative services.

Networks

Confirming our option to strengthen a way of organising and managing the MISSION in NETWORKS, we noted the importance of generating a way of proceeding or perhaps it is a federative culture that corresponds to this option and makes it more dynamic internally.

 

During this period, we have realised that the organisational structures in NETWORKS must be accompanied by a federative culture that, corresponding to them, transforms and enriches us personally and collectively.

 

Our NETWORK option, with a GLOBAL perspective and strengthening LINKS is not only a way of management but rather, it is, above all, a way of being as an organisation.

Initiatives

The PPF is primarily deployed through the 12 joint initiatives between countries that are articulated in networks. These are at the federation’s action heart.

 

Initiatives: We identify three types of initiatives: initiatives of identity, permanent reflection to strengthen and concretise the identity and mission; initiatives of global service, through which a service is provided that benefits all countries and networks; initiatives of local action, coordinated work in networks between several countries.

 

The initiatives are:

 

Pedagogical Education, Educational Quality, Evaluation and Impact Measurement, Integral Ecology and Pan-Amazonia, Education for Work, Youth, Citizenship, Gender, Inclusive Education, Migration, Identity and Spirituality, Early Childhood Care.

Global Plan of Federal Priorities 2021-2025

This document presents proposals for the revision of some orientations of the Global Plan of Federal Priorities (PGPF) and it proposes partial changes to the organisational and management structures, based on the analysis and evaluation process carried out. The responses and recommendations gathered consider that we are still in the process of implementing the strategy of the 2016 – 2020 Federative Plan, therefore, no fundamental revisions to the Plan are proposed and the fundamental mission definitions are confirmed.

Por su parte, también contamos con un Plan de Implementación (PIM), el cual es la formulación operativa para la gestión del nuevo Plan Global de Prioridades Federativas 2021-2025. El Plan Global nos orienta, el Plan de Implementación nos estructura y organiza.

See PGPF
Consultar PIM

Federal Priorities Plan 2016-2020

It presents the framework and emphases that will guide the Movement’s actions: identity, inspiring challenges, mission, vision and priorities, as well as the priority axes that are made operational through lines of action and components…

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3rd Strategic Plan of the International Federation Fe y Alegría 2010-2014

This Plan is aimed to improve the functioning of the Federation, its organisation and its processes. Measures are proposed to promote greater coordination and synergy between programmes, in order to encourage participative management and to strengthen internal and external communication.

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II Comprehensive Institutional Development and Strengthening Plan 2005-2009

It proposes eleven permanent programmes that give a greater international dimension by being based in different countries, in order to respond to the growth of the Federation and the new demands of the context.

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I Global Development and Institutional Strengthening Plan 2001-2005

It explains the strategic planning scheme adopted and its rationale, the background and justification of the plan, the mission and vision, the strategic and operational objectives, action lines and projects, target population and arrangements for the administration of the plan.

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