Updated: Nov 30, 2022
In a convulsive context, hope always finds a way to make itself palpable in the lives of the least, of the forgotten. This is the consequence of the Church's actions in mission territories. This is the work that the Augustinians for the World Foundation undertakes.
Maurizio and Simona, a Roman couple challenged to offer their lives in favour of others, work side by side both at home and in the coordination of the Foundation, present in five countries of the world through its development projects. But not only that, they also offer their means for the linguistic inclusion of the religious who land in Rome to continue their training.
To date, they have a system of scholarships, mostly donated by the circumscriptions, for the religious who come to the College of St. Monica. They assist two schools in the Vicariate of Congo with 2,000 students and a care centre for child soldiers. In Nigeria they are working in classrooms which foster, with the support of the Augustinian Fathers, intercultural and religious dialogue. In Mozambique they have carried out an initiative to assist women and children displaced by local terrorism in an agricultural project. In Kenya they are building a school in Kisumu and in Venezuela they are working on the renovation of a health centre.
A whole amalgam of initiatives that allow them to give an opportunity to those who, due to the circumstances in their countries of origin, have been denied it by the seal of their birth.
We talked to them.
Maurizio, what is the day-to-day running of the Foundation like and what are your main needs?
“The Foundation was created by the General Curia to support the social activities it has in Rome (scholarships for Augustinian students and other living expenses) and also to support the work of the Augustinian Fathers in assisting the most needy through financial and technical assistance. Every day we prepare reports on how the projects we have underway are doing, on what is required at any given moment, on opportunities that the fathers or we have detected and where we see how we can expand our network of help to be able to reach them. The Foundation was born to develop projects and not to seek funds, although it is clear that we need to have resources and to be accountable, with total transparency, to our donors. The priority, and this is why the board decided to have only two people in Rome, is to be able to allocate as much money as possible to development projects and to train both parents and local staff. At the moment, we receive no support from public funds. Our main source of income is private donors and private foundations from Germany, Spain, the USA, Ireland and Italy.”
We don't just work to do things, but to transmit and carry out works that transform the lives of others. Maurizo and Simona. Augustinians for the World Foundation
Simona, how does the local part, so to speak, of your work as a foundation here in the Curia work?
“We help in the linguistic immersion of the Augustinian student fathers who come here so that they can have the Italian language skills that will enable them to study in the Roman universities. For me, to tell you the truth, it is a very gratifying experience in relation to other work I have been able to do before in this area. The motivation of the Augustinian Fathers is very different from that of any other institution that gives importance to languages because they use the language for the mission. This, besides helping in whatever Maurizio may need in the development projects, allows me to get to know better cultures far from our own in those territories where the Order is present. It is a very concrete work, where we can see where each perceived aid goes and what it does to transform their lives. It is a very nice thing.”
Maurizio. Given that you have to spend a lot of time away, supervising projects, how do you organize your day-to-day life as a family?
“It's true that it's not easy when I have to travel to study the projects we have underway or monitor their development. Now that I have a family, that we have a child, sometimes it's not easy because the countries where we work are not, to say the least, calm and safe places, but it's my job, and I love it! In this sense, the Augustinian Fathers, in the last few years, have allowed us to telework and to be able to spend more time with the family, so we feel very supported by the Order in this aspect. We have been fortunate to be able to take our son to Tanzania to see the orphanage we have there. In my opinion, this is key for young Europeans to see how big the world is, how different it is and how important it is to get close to those who suffer, to those who have nothing. Helping people and being able to get to know different realities is key for me. Parents have a very clear idea of their faith. We don't just work to do things, but to transmit and carry out works that transform the lives of others. That is what is above all else. This is the case of the school for child soldiers that we have in Congo, which is a spectacular project. But it's the same in other parts of the world. Parents know the importance of being there for the poor. That is our work.”