PARAGUAY, on the occasion of Dequeni’s 30 years by Carmen Cosp •
Ricardo Franco, one of Dequeni’s founding youths, told me excitedly that several weeks ago Marcial had been eagerly looking for him. To do this, he went to Caacupé for Sunday Mass. He recalled that pa’i [Father] Claudio Giménez had given him First Communion, and surely he could give him some information.
After Mass, he approached the bishop and told him: “I have been looking for these people for twenty-five years. Where can I find Ricardo Franco, Carmen Ruiz, Cristina, Ida, Óscar…? Thanks to them I am what I am today.”
I come to express my gratitude to you…
Coincidentally, the bishop had the pertinent information. A few hours later, Marcial and his spouse arrived at the Casa de los Salesianos [Salesians’ House] of Ypacarái, where Franco was participating in a congress. A few minutes later, they embraced; they were overwhelmed. “I come to express my gratitude to you and Dequení. When I was seven years old you found me at Calle Última selling newspapers, and you gave me an invitation. I went to Dequení; I learned the mechanic trade, and they found me work as a mechanic’s helper, and I met other companions. The soccer games, snacks, the catechesis, the cookie, and the chocolate marked me, and they gave me much strength…it was key in moving forward.”
Today Marcial has a family, his own shop, and he repairs trucks; his wife does the accounting. He came to express gratitude, because they changed his life.
That preferential gaze of Jesus for his smallest and weakest children is what moved a group of youths thirty years ago around this work of solidarity. “We went through the streets, we took them out of game rooms and brothels…and we took them to Dequení.”
The small seed currently reaches more than 10,000 beneficiaries with wholesome early childhood attention and protection for the families at the community centers. Businesses, thousands of volunteers, and on occasion, the entire country joins in their walks to make the situation of at risk children visible.
Let the children come to me (called Dequení according to the first syllables of each of these words in Spanish), is more than a call, a shout of the Lord, who wants to see them grow in an abundant life. We know that nourishment, motivation, and loving care in early childhood are essential for the development of the brain’s neurons for learning, but there is a lack of commitment of all the leaders, so that our children and youth can be happy, supported, and nourished with nutrients for the body and…the soul.
We feel happy and proud of this work that is celebrating its founding thirty years ago, and we challenge others to continue to join as the Master invites us, because nothing is gained if there is one child on the street.
We do it for the children
“Dearest Blessed Mother, we desire that DEQUENÍ will always continue to grow, we give you this humble work as a contribution to the capital of grace. We do it for the children,” the collaborators of Dequení prayed on 3May, during the Mass in Tuparenda with Bishop Claudio, crowning the Blessed Mother with the most beautiful crown – Dequení’s logo transformed into a crown. (We wait for the translation of the report).
Original: Spanish. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, USA