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THE "POPULORUM PROGRESSIO" FOUNDATION

 

Nine years have already gone by since Pope John Paul II established the Autonomous Foundation “Populorum progressio”, with its seat in Vatican City State. He wanted it to be a gesture of the Church’s loving solidarity towards the most abandoned and those most in need of protection, such as the indigenous peoples, peoples of mixed racial backgrounds and Afro-Americans. Since then many fruits of love and of charity have been harvested.

 

Goals

The Foundation was created on February 13, 1992, the year in which the Fifth Centenary of the beginning of the Evangelization of the American Continent was celebrated and the Fourth General Assembly of the Latin-American Episcopate was held. Its objective is to promote the integral development of the poorest campesinos of Latin America and to be a sign and witness of Christian brotherhood and authentic solidarity.

The Foundation is aimed at collaborating with all those who are conscious of the suffering condition of the Latin-American peoples and wish to contribute to their integral development, thus ensuring that the social doctrine of the Church may find a just and appropriate application.

 

The “Populorum Progressio” Fund

Many years earlier, in 1968, Pope Paul II had established the “Populorum Progressio” Fund on the occasion of his pastoral visit to Colombia for the opening of the Second General Conference of the Latin-American Episcopate, and of the meeting he had with the campesinos in that country. He addressed the following words to them: “We know the conditions of your existence: conditions of poverty for many of you, which at times are below the normal requirements for a human life [...] We hear the cry that rises from your suffering [...] We ask ourselves what we can do for you. We will continue to defend your cause. We will continue to support the initiatives and programmes of the responsible authorities, of the international organizations, and of the affluent countries in favour of the developing peoples. We ourselves will try to set an example, within the limits of our economic feasibilities”. This gesture of the Pope had as its outcome this “Fund”, the proceeds of which were to be invested in programmes of agrarian reform. The Foundation “Populorum Progressio” incorporated, reorganized and completed the Fund, forming a single entity.

 

Appeal

By creating the Foundation “Populorum Progressio”, Pope John Paul II, like his predecessor, appealed to the international community, the institutions and all people of good will to redouble their efforts and solidarity in support of the integral development of the campesinos and the indigenous peoples of Latin America, who are still living in conditions of underdevelopment. He also invited all the Episcopal Conferences, especially those of the developed countries, and those of Latin America itself, to hold a collection among their own faithful to this end. The generous response to this appeal by the Italian Episcopal Conference should especially be recalled: it is a response that has continued down to the present day.

The need however persists. So the Pope’s appeal has lost none of its urgency. It has been shown that each year the Foundation distributes among the indigenous peoples and campesinos in need a sum close to the equivalent of its own capital; in this respect it differs from the general average, on the basis of which the contributions tend to decrease. This can only happen thanks to the aid and generosity of many.

 

Organization

The Foundation “Populorum Progressio” has its seat at the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" whose President, His Eminence Cardinal Robert Sarah, who acts is at the same time as the Foundation's President and legal Representative.

The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors. Apart from seeing to it that the Foundation’s statutory norms are fulfilled, its duties include the examination and approval of the projects submitted. The Board of Directors was established in Santo Domingo on October 16, 1992, and since then it had faithfully performed its role. It is formed of seven members, of whom six are bishops of the various countries of Latin America, and one represents the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. At the present time the members are: His Eminence Cardinal Juan Sandoval Qńiguez (President); the Most Rev. Edmundo Luis Flavio Abastoflor Montero (Vice-President); the Most Rev. Alberto Taveira Corręa, Archbishop of Belém do Pará (Brazil); the Most Rev. Antonio Arregui Yarza, Archbishop of Guayaquil (Ecuador); the Most Rev. Óscar Urbina Ortega , Archbishop of Villavicencio (Colombia); the Most Rev. José Luis Astigarraga Lizarralde, Vicar Apostolic of Yurimaguas (Perú); and Msgr. Segundo Tejado Muńoz (Cor Unum). Dr. Juan Vicente Isaza Ocampo acts as Secretary of the Board; he is based in Bogotá.

Each project submitted is accompanied by a letter of the local Ordinary, which provides a  guarantee of the effective need it is intended to tackle, and of the project’s effective realization within the times reported. Each project relies on the local Ordinary’s approval and on the support of the diocese. The mediation of the Apostolic Nunciatures is also used. The organizational structure of the Church thus makes it possible, without additional expense, to reach the remotest corners, even the most hidden places deep in the jungle.

 

Projects approved

From its origins to the year 2008 the Foundation has approved and funded 3,102 projects, which have represented a real source of comfort and encouragement for thousands of indigenous people and campesinos in need. During this period the total sum granted amounted to $ 26.460.219 (US). The annual growth in the number of projects approved and in the amount of the sums allocated to them may also be noted with satisfaction. The distribution by years is seen in the following table:

 

TOTAL PROJECTS APPROVED FROM THE ORIGINS OF THE FOUNDATION TO 2011 WITH THE ANNUAL AMOUNTS DISTRIBUTED IN US DOLLARS

YEAR

PROJECTS

AMOUNT IN US$
1993 124 1,066,584
1994 148 1,124,680
1995 149 1,250,770
1996 158 1,179,825
1997 181 1,442,250
1998 196 1,682,820
1999 215 1,705,890
2000 209 1,923,500
2001 216 1,773,700
2002 223 1,895,300
2003 221 1,843,200
2004 231 1,881,000
2005 212 1,876,200
2006 215 1,820,500
2007 204 1,885,700
2008 200 2,108,300
2009 193 2,128,500
2010 186 2,091,500
2011 189 2,102,500
2012 164 1,736,500
2013 171 1,995,000
TOTAL 4,005

36,514,219

 

The average contribution per project amounts to approximately 10,000 US dollars. This is an indication that preference is given to supporting microprojects. The contribution is given as a one-time donation. However, attempts are made to promote and recommend, where possible, the creation of revolving funds, managed by the respective communities, thanks to which the sum donated by the Foundation achieves greater social utility.

 

Distribution by countries

The distribution by countries has not been homogeneous. This is partly due to the diversity of the indigenous component in each country and partly due to the varying degree of knowledge of and interest in the Foundation.

DISTRIBUTION BY COUNTRIES OF THE VARIOUS PROJECTS APPROVED FROM THE FOUNDATION’S ORIGIN TO 2013
 

COUNTRY NUMBER OF PROJECTS
ANTILLES 8
ARGENTINA 64
BOLIVIA 312
BRAZIL 506
CHILE 183
COLOMBIA 625
COSTA RICA 113
CUBA 47
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 136
ECUADOR 380
EL SALVADOR 161
GUATEMALA 149
HAITI 171
HONDURAS 33
MEXICO 202
NICARAGUA 172
PANAMA 74
PARAGUAY 99
PERÚ 469
URUGUAY 32
VENEZUELA 68
T  O  T  A  L 4.005

 

Types of projects

The projects approved by the Foundation concern the various aspects of a community's integral development: health care, housing, drinking water, schooling, communal infrastructures, production, nutrition, religious and civic formation.

Each of them is part of a process that the community or group itself conducts and experiences. It is not the result of improvisation. The projects must be planned, implemented and evaluated with the participation of the community itself.

  

DISTRIBUTION OF PROJECTS APPROVED FROM 1992 TO 2007

BY AREAS OR SECTORS OF DEVELOPMENT; IN PERCENTAGES

AREAS COMPRISING PERCENTAGE
CONSTRUCTION:   11.27%
  Health Centres  
  Schools  
  Housing  
     
EDUCATION:   11.27%
  Capacitation  
  Communication  
  Endowment  
  Publications  
     
COMMUNAL INFRASTRUCTURES   36.27%
  Drinking water  
  Sewage  
  Roads, bridges  
  Fencing  
  Electrification  
  Hygienic services  
  Community buildings  
     
PRODUCTION:   38.73%
  Agriculture and animal husbandry  
  Handicrafts  
  Microbusinesses  
  Community shops  
     
HEALTH CARE:   2.46%
  Capacitation  
  Endowment  

T O T A L

  100%

 

A young Foundation projected towards the future

The Foundation “Populorum Progressio” is still young. It was born, it has grown up and developed in the space of a few years. It has expressed its solidarity and concern. It has provided practical help. Thanks to the commitment and dedication of many, it is now a well consolidated Foundation, with good prospects for the future, with effective responses to real needs, and with the advantage of very reduced running costs.

 

Postal address:

Secretariat of the Board of Directors

Carrera 7 B Bis N.124-78

Bogotá, D.C.

Colombia

 

Tel. + 57 [1] 213.40.43

Fax + 57 [1] 620.42.97

 

e-mail: fundapp@cable.net.co

 

 

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