Tuesday, May 26, 2009

la reunión de nueve horas

Today, UAC-CP faculty and staff met with the staff of CARITAS Coroico.  It was a meeting that lasted for nearly nine hours!*  

Granted, there was a lot to talk about. The meeting provided employees of the UAC-CP and CARITAS Coroico the opportunity to exhibit their work--objectives, goals, difficulties, outcomes, visions for the future, etc., for each academic field, extension program, and production area.

Msgr. Juan Vargas serves as the Bishop of the Coroico Diocese and as President of both CARITAS Coroico and the UAC-CP.

Though we've never had an official relationship with them, CARITAS Coroico is by no means a stranger.  It employs 37 people (three of whom are UAC-CP graduates and three others are UAC-CP thesis students) and has offices based in three rural pueblos within the Coroico diocese (Sorata, Coroico, and Caranavi).  Like the UAC-CP, CARITAS Coroico works in various extension projects that intend to improve the lives of the rural poor.  Many of our services, in fact, are very similar.  So, one of the positive outcomes of the (painfully long) meeting was that it provided a forum to talk about ways in which we can support each other's work in order to achieve our separate, but similar missions.

After lunch, Msgr. Juan Vargas, Bishop of the Coroico diocese and president of both CARITAS Coroico and the College, spoke briefly. He reminded everyone about the importance of our work.  "We are here to do three things," Msgr. Vargas said, "One: to share the Good News of the Gospels with the people. Two: to create economic and social development in Bolivia's rural area.  And three, and perhaps the most important: we are here for la promoción humana." Human promotion.

"We [CARITAS and the UAC-CP] need to arrive at the hearts of the people, the people who live such difficult lives in the campo. Our job is to help people come to believe in the opportunity to improve their lives. And while we know we won't be able to reach everyone, we can hope that the people whose lives we touch we infect those who we are unable to help."

"Life can't continue this way for our brothers and sisters in the rural area," the Bishop continued. "We have all seen how people live; we have all witnessed the marginalization of the poor--many of us here in this room have even lived this.  So that is why it is our work to help offer nuestra gente better, more dignified lives.  This is the culture we must have here."

"We need to enter the hearts of our students, the hearts of the people we serve.  I want you to be able to put the heart of the missions of our institutions into the work that you do each day. In this way, offering ourselves to our work, we will ensure that people live dignified, just, and peaceful lives."  

Despite the length of the meeting (okay, I admit, I didn't last through the whole thing--I skipped out early to attend Edwin Zapata's thesis defense!) I think we all walked away today with a good feeling--knowing that we, in fact, have allies who are also dedicated to providing peace, justice, and equality for Bolivia's poor.  While our work sometimes seems outrageously impossible, it's nice to know we aren't going it alone.

*That "official" time does not include the one-hour we had to share lunch...at the meeting table.

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