Posted On 2022-05-22 In Dequeni, works of mercy

Dequeni: “catching up” after five years

PARAGUAY, Maria Fischer •

It is amid this meeting full of questions, presentations, conversations, answers, and laughter, that I understand more clearly than ever what these more than two years of pandemic have done to all of us. It is not the same to communicate at a distance, read messages and watch videos, as it is to sit in the same place, look at each other, listen to each other, “feel” each other. It is the morning of April 21, at the headquarters of the Dequeni Foundation in Fernando de la Mora, it is the first face-to-face meeting after five years – and the opportunity to finally ask why there are no more of the famous scholarships and why Dequeni is no longer in Arroyos y Esteros. And to understand that Dequeni now works less like the Shrine and more like the Pilgrim MTA. —


Andreza Ortigoza, Maria Fischer

We meet with about two hours of delay, since the floods caused by the heavy rain of the early morning prevented the transport. But the meeting was not suspended, only postponed because of the rain. We did not visit the chapel with the picture of the Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt, as on previous occasions, but went directly to the meeting room – where a Pilgrim MTA awaited me in the arms of one of Dequeni’s collaborators. She was already a missionary when she began her work and now, she makes the Blessed Mother go on pilgrimage among the employees and volunteers of Dequeni. All Dequeni in a missionary state…

In the hall, there is still all the material that had been exhibited the day before for the teachers at the public schools that receive support from Dequeni. And so, between explanations, presentations, videos, and photos, we are immediately on the topic: What is Dequeni doing now after the pandemic, which models elaborated in the pandemic will remain, what is new in the actions, in the strategy, today and for the future? We spoke about the phases and transitions in the way of working according to the change of demands, of this flexibility with the hand on the pulse of time, to understand that something that was great 30 years ago, should give way to something more adequate 10, 20, or 30 years later…without ever abandoning what was the reason for Dequeni’s birth: to support the most vulnerable children of the country.

A little more like the Pilgrim Mother …

This is how the project “Alfrombita viajera”(Travelling mat) is presented to me. “With this project we reach the homes of children in early childhood. We are received by families living in vulnerable areas who cannot access timely stimulation services. The educators go to the homes with a large backpack in which they carry the materials that allow them to attract the children’s attention; on foot, by motorcycle or car, to play with them and prepare them in the best way so that they are ready for school life.” One of the educators is present and tells of this experience of touring the villages and settlements, with backpack and a lot of enthusiasm, under inclement sun… and the smile on her face shows that it is not suffering, but pleasure.

Before, many things were done in central places in the communities… but now, they understood, the time has come to go to meet the families and their children where they are… not to wait for them to arrive, but to look for them….

A little more like the Pilgrim Mother does, a little less “sedentary”… Pilgrim Church, Dequeni going out in solidarity.

A little more like the missions…Dequeni

Noelia and Andreza, along with other collaborators, then explain how they now work in the communities – with the schools, with the teachers, with the parents, with people committed in the communities, so that the children can learn well, that the youth can find a good preparation for their first job, that the parents know how to support their children and that the teachers have all the didactic material to do their educational work.

At the end of the printed material there is a drawing of a man saying goodbye to a place. What? Is he leaving? Yes, he is leaving. But not because he is leaving, but because after three or four years of intense work, the goal is accomplished, the community can live from what they have received, and they know how to maintain and develop everything…and Dequeni leaves to begin this same work in another place.

As is done in the university missions, in the family missions…after three years they do not return to the same place, because they arrived at the time of the sending forth, yes.

Yes, they work with what is known within Schoenstatt as the original graces of the Shrine, as a pedagogical process in the communities: After a phase of welcome, of getting to know and becoming familiar, comes the transformation and then, from the training of the agents of the pedagogical process and their commitment, the sending forth, “to walk alone.” Thus, Andreza explains, “we look back at the communities we have left because we have fulfilled the mission with our best efforts in the pedagogy of welcoming, transformation and sending”.

And the scholarships? The fruit of professional success

In this climate of trust and free and open exchange, I ask something that has been a concern for years… For many years – Dequeni being the first social project that we promoted and for which we sought donations on – we worked so well with the scholarships for the children of families with limited resources… so that they could receive uniforms, shoes, school supplies at the beginning of the school year… Why is it not done more?

Why don’t we do it anymore? “Because it is no longer necessary,” they explain to me… And they tell me that one of Dequeni’s collaborators launched himself into politics a few years ago…and since then, the state gives all these children the “backpack” that they need to go to school.

What a success!

And what a joy to know it and to be able to communicate it.

And also, to be able to communicate that Dequeni continues to need prayers and donations of solidarity from all of us. Because for 37 years they have been guided by the same passion: We do it for the children.

Thank you, Dequeni!


Preparing an interview

Institutional webpage:

<strong>To donate - Dequeni</strong>
Via the Dequeni wVia bank transfer (free in the SEPA zone):

Name: Schönstatt-Patres International e. V.
IBAN: DE91 4006 0265 0003 1616 26
Intended use: Dequeni

Original: Spanish. Translation: Maria Fischer

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