says Sofia Basile, a young volunteer who, thanks to the Marist General House and FMSI, worked for the project Three2Six.
Due to the conflicts in Central Africa, many people have fled to South Africa, willing to begin a new life. Children have fled too, alone or with their families, and are living, impoverished and uprooted, in a country with no prospect of education or other children rights. The Marist Sacred Heart College in Johannesburg opened its door to these kids, giving them the chance to study (from 3 to 6) in order to catch up with their peers once they get all their papers and can go to a public school.

Sofia spent two months in Johannesburg, from October to December 2018, and she recalls her experience as follows:
“Thanks to my volunteering at the Marist General House in Rome, and with FMSI, I had the chance to live one of the best experiences of my life so far. I flew to Johannesburg in October to help out with the Three2Six project. It was established in 2008 and it is important because it takes care of the refugee children giving them an education and stimulating their creativity with other activities.

On my first day, the Sacred Heart Principal introduced me to the school staff and the other international volunteers.
During my stay I had two main tasks to carry out:  for the first month, I attended the Observatory Girls School, where I helped out Mr. Chapepa, responsible for the school library, while in the afternoon I assisted the teachers with the lessons.
From 3 to 6pm, I had the chance to interact with the children, with whom I interacted since day one. They are used to have volunteers around, but they love each of us in a different way, and this makes them absolutely unique.
During these hours, kids study Life Skills, Mathematics, English, play together and get a snack.

My second task was to organize the Holiday Program: two weeks to play sports, get to know science and art. All these subjects were taught free of charge by many people with expertise in the related field, or by Australian volunteers or former Three2Six students.
To engage Three2Six alumni is fundamental, because no one more than them can understand the struggle these children are experiencing.

Going so far from home was challenging, but the beauty I have seen and the love I have received paid back all the difficulties and the fatigue.
The Marists there are a fundamental presence for both the educational activities, but also because they help the families: the Brothers are an escape route to what it’s called “the poverty trap”. Culture and education are the key for a fair life, for reaching the dreams of these kids who, despite having experienced more traumas than an old Western person, do not forget to smile and want to make something beautiful out of their lives.

What I would like to say to those who are willing to volunteer internationally is: do not be scared. Our contribution might seem little, but it is still meaningful.
It is hard for me to describe how happy I was when a little girl with learning disabilities managed to write inside the margins of the paper sheet.

I would thank all those who made my experience possible, the people who hosted me in Johannesburg and, last but least, the volunteers who were to me like brothers and sisters”.


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The Institute of the Marist Brothers (FMS: Fratres Maristae a Scholis), founded in France in 1817 by St. Marcellin Champagnat, is the second largest congregation of Brothers in the Catholic Church.  

An encounter with a dying young man, Jean-Baptiste Montagne, who knew nothing of his faith and was barely able to read, proved to be the defining moment for Marcellin Champagnat.  Soon after the boy’s death, St. Marcellin put into motion his vision.  “We need brothers,” he said, who will give their lives in the service of children and young people, especially those most in need and neglected by society.  

Champagnat, a man of great faith and trust in God’s providence, dedicated his early followers to Mary, sending them among young people, especially those least favored, to “make Jesus known and loved.”  The initial focus of his work was to provide education for children in rural, areas since this was a pressing need at the time, and provided an opportunity for their faith development.  

Today the community numbers about 3,000 members.  They are joined by a network of nearly 40,000 lay people and reach over 700,000 children and young people in 80 countries.  You will find this Marist network working in schools and universities, pastoral and social centers, youth movements and youth programs and wherever they find young people most in need.

El Instituto de los Hermanos Maristas (FMS: Fratres Maristae a Scholis), fundado en Francia en 1817 por San Marcelino Champagnat, es la segunda congregación de hermanos más numerosa de la Iglesia Católica.

Un encuentro con un joven moribundo, Jean-Baptiste Montagne, que no sabía nada acerca de su fe y que era apenas capaz de leer, se reveló como el momento decisivo para Marcelino Champagnat. Inmediatamente después de la muerte del niño, San Marcelino puso en práctica su visión. “Necesitamos hermanos”, dijo, que den sus vidas al servicio de los niños y jóvenes, especialmente los más necesitados y olvidados por la sociedad.

Champagnat, un hombre de gran fe y confianza en la providencia de Dios, consagró sus primeros seguidores a María, enviándoles entre los jóvenes, especialmente los más desfavorecidos para “dar a conocer a Jesús y hacerlo amar”. El primer objetivo de su trabajo fue ofrecer una educación a los niños de las zonas rurales, porque era una necesidad urgente en aquel tiempo, ofreciéndoles así una oportunidad para crecer en la fe.

En la actualidad los miembros de la congregación son unos 3.000. Junto a ellos trabaja una red de unos 40.000 laicos que atienden a más de 700.000 niños y jóvenes en 80 países. Esta red marista trabaja en colegios y universidades, centros sociales y  pastorales, movimientos juveniles y programas de formación para la juventud y en cualquier lugar en el que encuentren jóvenes necesitados.

Congregazione dei Fratelli Maristi (FMS: Fratres Maristae a Scholis) fu fondata in Francia nel 1817 da S. Marcellino Champagnat ed è oggi la seconda congregazione maschile (di fratelli) della Chiesa per numero di professi.
L’incontro con Jean-Baptiste Montagne, un giovane di 17 anni in punto di morte, analfabeta e senza formazione religiosa, fu un momento cruciale per Marcellino Champagnat. Poco dopo la morte del giovane, egli volle dare seguito ad un’idea che gli era balenata in seminario. “Abbiamo bisogno di fratelli”, disse, “che diano la loro vita per il servizio ai bambini e ai giovani, specialmente quelli più bisognosi e dimenticati dalla società”.
Champagnat, un uomo di grande fede e fiducia nella Provvidenza divina, consacrò i suoi primi seguaci a Maria e li mandò tra i giovani, specialmente i più emarginati, per “far conoscere ed amare Gesú”. Fin dall’inizio la sua missione fu incentrata su bambini n età scolare delle zone rurali, poiché l’istruzione era una necessità urgente al tempo e poiché rappresentava una formidabile opportunità di evangelizzazione.
Oggi la Congregazione annovera circa 3.000 religiosi affiancati da quasi 40.000 laici; insieme essi assistono più di 700.000 bambini e giovani in 80 paesi del mondo.
I Maristi, religiosi e laici, prestano la loro opera in scuole e università, centri pastorali e sociali, movimenti e programmi giovanili e ovunque ci siano bambini e giovani bisognosi da assistere