PARAGUAY, Ani Souberlich •
Every year, Fundaprova (the legal entity that supports Casa Madre de Tupãrenda) finds it necessary to organize events throughout the year in order to support the expenses of the program that is developed at Casa Madre de Tupãrenda (CMT). In this way, we can keep the doors of our house open to so many young people who, upon their release from juvenile prison, need a place that welcomes them, educates them, and prepares them for life and all that “living in freedom” entails. —
Since two years ago, the Paraguayan state no longer collaborates economically with us – neither with the salaries, nor with the expenses of the program, food for the youths or maintenance of the house – and therefore, keeping the doors of Casa Madre de Tupãrenda open fell totally on the shoulders of those who are part of Fundaprova, who are committed people out of love for Schoenstatt, who offer all of this as a great apostolate of mercy.
The art of fundraising, month by month
Let us remember that each one also has his work, his family, and his life like any other being on this earth. They are volunteers. Each month they have to “juggle” to raise enough money to pay the salary of the staff, the scholarship that the youth receive at the end of each month (equivalent to an apprentice’s salary), and also to cover all the expenses for food, electricity, water, telephone, etc.; in short, the expenses required to sustain a house and a social reintegration program for about 20 young people. This is the only program of its kind in the country.
For this reason, we had already organized the “asado campestre” (rustic barbeque) in July, which was very well received and a great success. It contributed to alleviate the expenses of these months together with the generous contribution of many committed people who sponsor a youth (1.100.000 gs / 150 US$ per month), those who contribute every month for the scholarship of their godchild or another group that also contributes every month for the breakfast of the youth (110.000 gs / 15 US$ per youth per month).
I could name concrete cases of so many generous hearts. To provide one youth with lunch for a month, it takes 264,000 gs / 36 US$). There are twenty youth participating in the program.
A musical gala evening
Every year since its inception, November is the month of our last event. The events team was once again called upon to organize a musical gala evening under the direction of Maestro Luis Alvarez, a great Paraguayan musician.
On November 30, the musical gala took place at Club Centenario, which generously lent its facilities for the solidarity event. From early in the morning, the entire Fundaprova team was preparing and decorating the hall, distributing five hundred chairs, setting up the banners of Casa Madre de Tupãrenda and Emprendimiento Madre de Pan and of the sponsoring company DIESA and other companies that always collaborate.
Everything started punctually at 9:00 p.m. as planned. Dr. José Marín, president of Fundaprova, opened the gala with some words full of gratitude and hope for those present. Next, Derlis Gómez, a graduate of Casa Madre de Tupãrenda who graduated on November 22 expressed what it meant in his life.
“Thanks to CMT I discovered my abilities, thanks to CMT today I am a professional”
Derlis was encouraged to speak in front of the entire audience, saying:
“Good evening to all present, my name is Derlis Gómez, I am 18 years old, and I come from the city of Itauguá.
First of all, I want to thank Mrs. Ani Souberlich, director of Casa Madre de Tupãrenda and Mrs. Lourdes de Marín for the invitation here to the Musical Gala.
I was at CMT for six months, then I did my internship at Raio Bemba Hairdressing and Barber Shop, thanks to the opportunity given to me by Mr. Pascual Villamayor, better known as Tote.
The process in CMT was very difficult, the first months I was saying that I was not going to go anymore, that this, that that, but something deep inside was telling me:
“Don’t leave CMT, it is worth it, and you will realize it with time”.
Time went by and I adapted more and more to the group. The truth is that CMT helped me a lot since I left the Educational Center (= juvenile prison).
That is why I want to thank everyone who works there, for having helped me to move forward and to think differently, because I think it must be easy to deal with young people who have been released after a long time, because when we got out of there we went out like:
“I am not present for anybody, I am a nothing, not existing”.
Because we keep that way of thinking inside and when we leave, we do not realize that we are already outside and that we should have a different way of thinking. Thanks to CMT I realized that I have to act differently so that people see me differently. CMT opened my eyes and made me understand that in life one must have empathy and solidarity. Thanks to CMT I discovered my abilities, thanks to CMT today I am a professional. Thanks to CMT I am today speaking in front of more than one hundred people, thanks to CMT I was able to change my way of thinking and for that and for many other things, I say that CMT is one of the best socio-educational programs of social reinsertion that exists in our country.
I studied hairdressing and professional barbering for three months at the National Service for Professional Promotion while at CMT. In the morning I attended CMT and in the afternoon I went to study. They always supported me, they were always there giving me a hand in whatever I needed, they were always there giving me a push. In short, CMT turned my life around 180 degrees”.
At the end of his testimony, he received a great applause from those present, expressing admiration and respect for what this 18-year-old had managed to understand, change, and improve in his life so that the world would see him and treat him differently.
An atmosphere of shared joy
Then, the musical interpretations of Maestro Luis Alvarez and his orchestra filled the atmosphere with joy, from his nostalgic guaranias to the joyful Paraguayan polkas that invited the audience to “jeroky” (meaning dance in Guarani). It was all very spontaneous and revealed the authentic family spirit that reigned at the event.
It was very nice to see people from all generations, from the “Schoenstatt veterans” as Dr. José Marín said, as well as the generation that is taking over with their generous giving of self to support and get involved in works of solidarity.
We close 2023 with deep gratitude
We are closing a year that required greater dedication in all areas so that Mother of Tupãrenda House would remain faithful to its essence. At the same time, it was a year where She, our Queen, did not let herself be outdone in generosity, where difficulties became opportunities, where the capital of grace was abundant and therefore it was a richly blessed year for our house.
We close 2023 with deep gratitude to FUNDAPROVA, which courageously assumed and carries on its shoulders the execution of Mother of Tupãrenda House with faith in Divine Providence. Gratitude to so many people who throughout this year rolled up their sleeves and helped us to keep the doors of the house open with their prayers and their concrete contribution “And God, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
From Mother of Tupãrenda House we want, with our gratitude, to wish you a blessed Christmas and may the Child God be born in our hearts, filling it with joy, love, health, work, and all that He, in His infinite merciful love, knows we need.
Original: Spanish. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org