CHILE, Natalia Jáuregui / Maria Fischer •
“There is another social-educational project: the Father Hernan Alessandri Foundation, which has a large school in the commune of Puente Alto, in Santiago de Chile,” commented Father Francisco Pereira, spiritual director of Maria Ayuda, Chile, a few months ago in an exchange with schoenstatt.org about concrete projects of the development of a new social order, from the Covenant of Love. This is the Colegio José Kentenich in Puente Alto, where 834 boys and girls from the neighborhood are taught. It is a different neighborhood from the ones where Schoenstatt schools in Chile are usually found. The index of social vulnerability of the students in 2019 was 92.4% in basic education and 90.8% in middle education. In this school that holds the name of Joseph Kentenich, children, just like he was, are educated: from needy, poor, and vulnerable families. —
“We have belonged to the Schoenstatt schools network for several years, but unfortunately we are not very well known and this has made our financial situation a little more complicated, since it makes it more difficult to obtain permanent contributions for the education of our students,” commented Natalia Jauregui, manager of the Fundación Educacional P. Hernán Alessandri, entity that supports the Colegio P. José Kentenich and the Casa Belén Kindergarten in Puente Alto.
Puente Alto: place of the social commitment of the Schoenstatt Fathers and many more
“The seminarians always talk about Puente Alto, it is a place where they live happily their preparation for the priesthood,” comments Claudia Echenique from the editorial team of schoenstatt.org, speaking about the research for this article on the school in Puente Alto. “Yes, since 2012, the seminarians of the Major College have a project of social insertion in the commune of Puente Alto, where the community of the Schoenstatt Fathers has a school that serves children, adolescents, and youth of this sector”, they confirm. “Puente Alto is also the place where the Holy Week Missions of the Colegio Mayor are carried out. The project consists of living for one year in a house, with two or three seminarians, to serve pastorally in the catechesis of the school, as well as in two chapels (Señor de la Misericordia and San Carlos). The idea is to generate spaces where people can meet, share as brothers and sisters and be a religious presence in the midst of the people. In addition, the Schoenstatt youth of Santiago for many years carried out missions in Puente Alto.”
A school committed to the organic growth of the students and their teachers
In 1993, the María Ayuda Charitable Corporation acquired a piece of land in the Puente Alto district, adjacent to the town of Carol Urzúa, for the construction of a multi-purpose school that would provide a comprehensive response to the educational, social and recreational needs of families in the area. “Joseph Kentenich” was the name chosen by its founder, Father Hernán Alessandri to name the school in honor of the founding priest of the Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement.
The Colegio Padre José Kentenich is part of the network of Kentenich schools of the Schoenstatt Fathers along with the Schools Monte Tabor and Nazareth (Lo Barnechea), Sagrada Familia School (Reñaca), La Santísima Trinidad School (Concepción), Pablo Apóstol School (La Florida) and San José de Chicureo School (Chicureo).
The Colegio Padre José Kentenich, beyond a great team of teachers, has a multidisciplinary support team that is made up of: a psycho-pedagogue, a speech therapist, a psychologist, a counselor and social workers.
Every year our teachers are trained both internally and externally. The value and spiritual education is a key pillar for the education of the children as well as for the education of the collaborators. Therefore, different activities are developed during the year with workshops, masses, pilgrimages to the Schoenstatt Shrine and solidarity activities. Within the extra programmatic activities that are carried out every year in the area of formation, there is the preparation of the first communion and confirmation, which are carried out with the contribution of seminarians and volunteers.
Students have a variety of extracurricular workshops, which seek to provide complementary learning to the traditional, with the aim of contributing to personal growth and encourage the development of non-curricular skills, promoting the value of the environment, arts, music, science, sports and healthy living. The workshops are divided into age ranges and activities for all students in the school. In some cases, these workshops prepare students to attend competitions and exhibitions, both inside and outside the school.
During the year 2019, 10 workshops were held including: basketball, Andean folklore, soccer, English, gardening, gymnastics (motor skills and coordination), taekwondo, volleyball, scouting and orchestra.
The students of the school in third grade can choose between finishing their high school education in the scientific humanistic modality or joining the telecommunications technician. Students, who choose the professional technician, have exclusive laboratories for their specialty, with good level of equipment, besides having Cisco certifications and, the professional practices are managed and sought by the teachers of the professional technical area.
During the year 2019, due to the social outburst of October of that year, although there was no suspension of classes for internal reasons, there was a suspension of classes by the Ministry of Education, which meant that the school day was reduced for the rest of the academic year, and that is why several activities could not be completely carried out.
And then came the pandemic…
As if the socio-economic situation of the families in the neighborhood and the consequences of the social explosion had not yet been serious enough, in March 2020 the pandemic arrived.
“These last months have been a bit complex regarding the economic situation of our students’ families, and we have been focusing on carrying out some solidarity campaigns to be able to support in the most needed areas (food, school materials, computers and internet)”, says Natalia.
Aware of the lack of knowledge about the school (kindergarten will be the subject of another article), they invested in updating the website, in order to be able to spread, communicate, and make the educational projects in Puente Alto better known.
“We already have at least some graphics, social networks (Facebook and Instagram from the Foundation), active solidarity campaigns, school and kindergarten page, also in the process of being updated. All of this material is in much better shape than it was a few months ago, so we are making every effort to generate alliances so that our projects can be spread, with the main objective of course of increasing the network of “godparents” who support us monthly with donations, as well as obtaining more specific contributions for some of our 3 dimensions of student aid that we have implemented”.
Solidary help. Now!
Natalia mentions again what worries her the most:
“During this last time the social and economic impact that COVID-19 has generated in the families of our children and youth has been enormous. It brought negative consequences on the quality of the education we can provide them, as conditions increased the already existing gaps. Some of the data we were able to gather reflects this reality:
- Approximately 3 out of 4 families lost their source of employment.
- Three out of 10 families are still unable to meet their daily food and personal hygiene needs.
- Half of our students do not have a computer at home
- And more than 20% of the families do not even have access to the internet.
This is why we created Aid in Solidarity campaigns in 3 dimensions:
- Monthly delivery of Food Boxes (to 251 families)
- School Supplies Kits Campaign (for 595 kits)
- Internet connection for 185 monthly plans. We received a large donation of computers, however, this does not completely satisfy the need for connection, as many do not have the money to afford basic internet plans.
You can also help on a permanent basis by sponsoring a child from the foundation. A monthly contribution will help finance the education of hundreds of children from this school and kindergarten.
We invite you to be part of our project and join the challenge of changing a child’s life”.
Puente Alto. A neighborhood in a country marked by brutal social inequality.
Puente Alto. An efficient social project of a movement “under fire” in Chile and beyond.
Puente Alto. A commitment to the new social order from the gospel, in alliance.
Puente Alto. A child who can develop his/her gifts, his/her dreams, his/her strengths like that child Joseph Kentenich.
Puente Alto. Let’s be part of the change.
Original Spanish 2020-09-13, translated by Maria Aragón, Monterrey, México