human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Generative social integration

A few years ago we realised in our local Caritas organisation that our traditional educational role as Caritas was not doing enough to meet the needs of the people, especially their material needs. So we decided to delve deeper into what else can we do. One of the issues we decided to address was the situation of dependence in which many of our guests lived at that time. We realised that the habit to receive things and services for free risks eliminating any form of initiative of people, who then fall into lifeless passivity. Therefore, we thought a good way to deal with it was to give them some responsibility in helping themselves and others. We started by looking for some plots of land which could be turned into garden to grow produce in. We created working groups, guided by volunteers, who would divide the harvest between themselves and our canteen that provides food to anyone who comes in.

Another initiative with the same goal was inviting some of our canteen’s guests to stay after lunch time to help tidy up the dining area and the kitchen they used. At first some opposition to this arose, but soon this became a part of the common lunches.

In the third initiative our guests help us collect the food that large stores donate every day. They work together with the association that distributes this food to organisations like ours, and in this way they become integrated in the society beyond Caritas.

Overall, we have realised that forms of commitment and forms of work like these change people’s behaviour and help them deal with the challenges in their lives better. This confirms that such creative ways of engagement support their independence and contribute to their peace of mind.

Alternative Text

author

Don Giovanni Perini

Director
Caritas Piemonte-Valle d'Aosta

faith and action