FMA Human Rights
This was the title of the course that took place at Geneva at the Office of Human Rights and VIDES International on March 4-14, 2016. The participants in the course were: the Provincial Youth Pastoral Councillors of Piedmont, Lombardy, Sicily, Poland, East Timor, and AFO.
At the level of the Youth Pastoral Department, it seemed important to insist on education to human rights in our schools and educational centres, having them grasp at the same time, the meaning and importance of the presence of the Institute and VIDES at the United Nations.
Planning for a series of courses in various languages, these objectives were proposed: the ability to read situations in their own countries with reference to violations at the level of human rights; know the commitments their Countries assume by ratifying international conventions; individuate, according to the Salesian educational method, how to intervene to implement, reinforce, and protect the rights of children, young people, and women.
We moved according to the guidelines of the recent General Chapters in the assurance that human activity, when it tends to promote the dignity and integral vocation of the person, the quality of its conditions of existence, encounter and solidarity of peoples and nations, conforms to God's plan. In the desire to give the possibility of a meaningful experience, a course in Italian was set parallel to the 31st session of the Human Rights Council.
The course, of a theoretical-practical nature, alternated information, sharing of experiences, workshops, meetings with non-governmental organisms of the Holy See, of Permanent Missions, and of the High Commissariat of Human Rights. Basically, the result was direct participation in some sessions of the Human Rights Council, listening to reports by experts, and interventions by Nations. With the help of Sr. Maria Grazia Caputo (IIMA) and of Sr. Leonor Salazar (VIDES) we asked ourselves at the beginning what does it mean today to discuss the Salesian educational project with the new challenges at the world level. It deals with challenges that reach the Departments' level, because we ask what sense our work has today in the area in which it arose, and if it still responds to the reasons for which it arose, of the Recipients of the Collaborators, and of the Methods and instruments that we use.
After the example of Don Bosco who knew how to dialogue and communicate at various levels for the good of his young people, we reflected on the fact that we need to know how to re-interpret the Preventive System using a language that allows for dialogue with everyone: the language of Human Rights.
With the awareness that we are called to value the capacity of our pastoral educational proposals to communicate the Gospel and to lead the young to meet Jesus, even through an education that frees them from all poverty and marginalization, discussion using the language of human rights became significant as a result.
The fact that both the Institute and VIDES have the recognition that allows them to be present at United Nations meetings was valued and, in a certain sense, rediscovered. It is a presence that allows for active participation, even in having the word as happened on one of the days when we pronounced ourselves on the situation of children whose rights are often violated.
All the interventions had been thought out and planned to help the participants know how to translate them into guidelines for action in their respective local projects. The interventions of Sr. Maria Grazia Caputo and Maria D'Onofrio of the Human Rights Office explained the dynamics and the defence mechanisms of human rights. Sr. Leonor Salazaar and Elisabetta Murgia of VIDES International helped us to know better the contribution VIDES, together with the Institute, give for the protection of children in disadvantaged situations and for the empowerment of the young.
Alfred Fernandez (OIDEL) clarified the effort of government organisms in the promotion and defence of human rights, especially of the right to education. Msgr. Massimo De Gregori dwelled on the meaning of the presence of the Church at the United Nations. The encounter with Ambassador Enrico Serra from Italy emphasized how the permanent Italian mission contributes to the defence of human rights. The meeting with Cristina Giordano, responsible for the Library, illustrated the history and the richness of the documentation contained in the United Nations. The encounter with Elena Ippoliti of the High Commissariat of Human Rights, discussed the theme of education to human rights.
Participation in the Council sessions gave the possibility of meeting with some
Ambassadors of the respective Countries (East Timor).
The days concluded with the drawing up of a local plan of advocacy under the guidance of Maria D'Onofrio of the Human Rights Office with the possibility of a half day of reflection at Annecy, in the tracks of St. Francis de Sales.