In synthesis this is the aim of Centro Rincon de Luz, now into its third year, managed by the local Association of Unisol, in collaboration with AMU (Azione Mondo Unito) and AFN (Azione per Famiglie Nuove). To see how the project is going and to plan new developments, Anna Marenchino, from AMU’s Project section, visited Cochabamba in Bolivia.
The new Principal of the centre, Mari Cruz, is one of the many people she met during the trip. Mari Cruz attended the centre herself when she was young, though it wasn’t as developed or as welcoming as it is today. She managed to finish her studies thanks to the support of ‘Help at a Distance’, a project organised by the New Families Movement. Seeing her in charge of all the studies today is a real encouragement to all the children and their families to believe that a better life is possible.
“I’ve had to suffer a lot in my life,” Mari Cruz explains, “When I was small my father drank a lot and seeing him like that upset me very much. He wasn’t violent with us but he was very severe. I remember one of his punishments was to walk around the outside of the house from four in the morning until seven when it was time to go to school.
The Centre was a reference point for me. They helped me with the subjects I was struggling with at school, and it happened once, would you believe it, that I was one of the best in the class! They also helped me financially to stay on at school and finish my studies.
A few years later we moved house and were far from the Centre. My father was a bit better, and every weekend we would all work together with him to fix up the house. It was hard at first because we had nothing: except for light, water and a bathroom. But we didn’t complain. We would look at our father and in a reassuring tone say: ‘Don’t worry, just go to work so that tomorrow we can eat chicken!’
When times were hard I found the courage to start again, thanks to some people of the Focolare Movement who, besides having helped me at the Centre, gave me great support and helped me to trust again in myself and in others.
I have been teaching at the Rincon de Luz Centre for a number of years now, but I just couldn’t believe it last December when they asked me to be the Principal. Did they really mean me? I said yes immediately, because I really want to help to give these children a chance, just like I was given.
And now I am very happy because everything I’ve experienced, whether beautiful or sad, has made me stronger and has helped me understand other people more deeply, because I have felt their sufferings in my heart. Now I can say to the children and their families: ‘Be brave – we can all change!’ “
Source: Amu Newsletter No.2/2014 – www.amu-it.eu