Travelling toward the others, every day, that is having the sense of adventure

Angela Petenzi FMSI Project Administration Officer

Over the years that I have worked in the project sector of the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity, I have had the opportunity to make many trips to the various Continents. Over time what were just dots on the map and hard-to-pronounce names have become places and people known and efforts and joys shared. I am grateful for this sequence of encounters that have changed my life. It was for me an ongoing exercise of seeing the world through the eyes of others and created in me a special vulnerability whereby if something happens in the world or there is a war between two formerly friendly peoples, I suffer and participate because on both sides there are people I know, I contact them to find out how they are doing and I care about their lives.

The Marist Foundation has implemented many projects thanks to the support of so many donor agencies, the Marist Institute, private individuals.  We offer special thanks to our local Marist communities who have opened the doors of their schools to new urgencies and were open to new training and aid in collaboration with the local communities, which lead to a new way of considering children and pupils, as St. Marcellin taught, while at the same time overcoming and valorise local cultures.

Alongside all this, are my struggles, my mistakes, and my sense of smallness in the face of what seems to be a well-oiled “evil” machine that often threatens and hampers achievements.

However, be assured, that seeing a child domestic worker – who has never access to school before – make his signature, or proudly perform mathematical operations in front of everyone, or the smile of an elderly person who received a hot meal within the walls of a bombed house is like feeling ‘a huge tree covering rubble.’  All this, and more, give meaning to life and to the work.

My visits on trips have always been too short to get to know the local reality and cultures in depth, and I thank the Marist communities for facilitating this work, acting as mediators like Mary and helping me sharpen the gaze that recognizes hope. Yes, even in the most terrible and inhuman situations, people keep inside a hope. It can be sensed by a white shirt washed and ironed in a slum of garbage, or a drawing pencil jealously preserved in a broken-down backpack, or someone cooking and singing even among crumbling houses, or simply the young girl waking up at 3:00 a.m. to go to a school mile from home braving the danger of the road and the greater danger of being a girl.  

With our projects, we hope to be the midwife who ultrasounds these hopes, helps people give birth to hopes and grow them for the lives of all.

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