The Light Up the Night: For a Brighter Venezuela Gala is Back

The impact of Fe y Alegría, which was founded in Venezuela over 65 years ago, has always been felt beyond its direct work with marginalized and vulnerable communities. Ask any Venezuelan–on the streets of Miami, Madrid, or Maracaibo–and they will tell you their “Fe y Alegría story”. Through its connections with many public and private institutions, including the Catholic Church, Fe y Alegría has brought individuals together in collaboration in two ways: 1) the annual raffle and 2) community programs, which allowed students to visit Fe y Alegría schools to learn how the organization supports marginalized communities.

Even years later, many Venezuelans recall their experience with the annual raffle and how this special time of the year would fill their hearts. Regardless of where they are now, Fe y Alegría, the raffle, and its little red heart transports Venezuelans of all ages and backgrounds back to that sense of community and belonging. This is the case of Carolina Domínguez, María Alecia Klemprer and Mariana Bustillos, three friends from Venezuela who now live in Houston, Texas. Living outside Venezuela for a number of years, the trio had a growing sense of longing to contribute to the future of their home, in any way shape or form.

“When we became familiar with Magis Americas and Friends of Fe y Alegría in the US, we immediately felt compelled to work together,” said Dominguez.“There was trust in the platform, process and institutionalization of the organization that is not easy to find when working with organizations in Latin America.”

This clear connection to the impact and history of success by Fe y Alegría, as well as the security and transparency provided by Fe y Alegría’s relationship with Magis Americas, it’s long time U.S. partner and fiscal sponsor, allowed Dominguez, Klemprer and Bustillos to realize that this was the perfect opportunity to take action and support their country and its future generations.

Thus, with the support and guidance of Jesús “Txuo” Rodríguez Villarroel, S.J., executive director of Fundación Unidos en la Misión, the Light Up the Night: For a Brighter Venezuela gala was born.

In its first year, in 2019, the gala was a complete success. It gave participants the chance to contribute with friends and family, not only as Bustillos said, to “see that [their] little grain of salt, translates into the smiles on kids’ faces, joy”but also to see a direct line of support to Fe y Alegría as it continues on facing challenge after challenge. It was a true celebration of the work of Fe y Alegría and a moment in which individuals came together for a Brighter Venezuela. To the organizer’s surprise, the event also had strong support and participation from individuals who were not from Venezuela, but who had a strong connection to the country. It gave everyone a chance to get involved.

This year, after being postponed twice due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Light Up the Night: For a Brighter Venezuela gala is back to give individuals a chance to remain connected to the needs of Venezuela and contribute to the organizations working towards solutions. The gala will be inspired by Venezuelan culture through its ambiance and music, dancing and celebrating.

To learn more about the Light Up the Night: For a Brighter Venezuela gala, as well as purchase tickets, sponsor and/or donate, click here.

The gala will take place at the Silver Street Studios (2000 Edwards St., Houston, TX 77007) on Saturday May 7, 2022, at 7pm.

In Spain, over 12,000 participate in races to support Fe y Alegría Chad

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Since 2007, our partner in Africa,  Foi et Joie Tchad has been working towards quality education in the region of Guera, in the southern part of Chad. Fe y Alegría Chad carries out its mission through teacher training and through awareness raising actions for parents to promote education in their communities. Currently, 149 teachers and 25 staff members of Foie et Joie Tchad attend to 10.000 students in 28 centers.

In order to increase the outreach of their work, Entreculturas – Fe y Alegría Spain throughout its ten delegations across the country have organized during the month of February the Fifth edition of the  charity race Run for a Cause, Run for Education” aiming to raise funds to provide access to childhood education for 1,500 boys and girls aged 4 and 5 (54% of them are girls).

The races took place in 8 cities across the country with around 12,500 participants and on Sunday, February 28th, the race in Madrid gathered more than 3,500 people in races of 5 and 10 kms for adults and 1km for children.

The UN Human Development Index places Chad as the fourth poorest country on the African continent, given that 80% of the population lives under the poverty line. Out of the 11,630,000 inhabitants (45% of them are under the age of 15) it is estimated that 3.1 million people are in situations of food insecurity (lack of access to basic food intake) and almost 45,000 people have been forced to leave their homes running away from the violence of the armed group Boko Haram.

Chad is also one of the countries with greatest educational deficiencies. The material conditions of their schools are very tenuous and the academic training of teachers is highly limited. Despite some governmental attempts to strenghten the education sector through reforms, political instability and internal conflicts have strongly affected educational infrastructure and have highly increased problems such as lack of teachers, overcrowded classrooms and the increasing low rate of boys and girls attending school.

To that end and through the different races that are taking place, 26 childhood schools will be equipped with school supplies, training for teachers will be offered so they can increase the quality of their teaching and, in order to promote appropriate care for boys and girls in their communities, some meetings and encounters for parents will be held so they can dialogue about the benefits that education brings to their children and ultimately, the positive consequences towards the development of their communities.

Take a look at the photo albums of the races in the different cities by clicking here

Fe y Alegría’s work on the global challenge of the right to education

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The official launch of Fe y Alegría’s new U.S.-based initiative, Friends of Fe y Alegría in the United States left some important statements on the right to education and on the work that Fe y Alegría’s movement has been doing for over 60 years to promote learning opportunities for all.

Along with Fr. Daniel Villanueva, Executive Director of Entreculturas-Fe y Alegría Spain, Fr. William Kelley, S.J., Secretary for Social and International Ministries and President of Magis Americas and Carlos Vargas, Executive Director of Fe y Alegría Ecuador,  Lucía Rodríguez, FIFyA Public Advocacy Coordinator made several relevant points on the global challenge of the right to education that we now have to face by giving a brave response to the Sustainable Development Agenda that have been just signed a few weeks ago and which will set the global goals for a more sustainable, free of hunger world.

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“Seventeen major global goals were agreed upon to address the universal challenges we face today such as extreme poverty, the growing inequality of opportunities, and climate change. It is a global agreement for the next fifteen years that demands that every State around the world take certain concrete steps towards the commitment of human rights, peaceful coexistence and environmental sustainability.

According to Goal Number 4 of this important international “agreement”, by the time we reach 2030, every person around the world should enjoy quality education and life-long learning opportunities.

Since 1948, lifelong education for every person has been recognized as a Fundamental Human Right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is not an insignificant right, given the fact that it is one that enhances the access to the rest of the human rights and it also enables the practice of fundamental freedoms.  And yet, reality shows us that this right is systematically violated in every corner of the world.

It is hard to believe that in the twenty first century there are still almost 800 million youth and adults who cannot read nor write while at the same time the other part of the world population can access the largest library through an internet connection and just one simple click. (…)”

“(…) Almost 50,000 people, Jesuits and collaborators from around the world work every day so that the right to education becomes a reality for every person and in every society without discrimination of any kind due to race, social class, language, culture, religion or sex. We strive for an education that builds people committed with the transformation of their communities, countries and the world,  with creativity, skills and values.

How do we do it? In the first place, by directly serving more than 3 million children, youth, and adults in 112 countries. More than half of those 3 million belong to the most vulnerable groups, to the most impoverished, to those who live on the margins of society. But we are not content by proclaiming the right to education and providing direct educational services, although these activities are much needed.(…)”

You can find the whole interview on the EduJesuit website by clicking here