PARAGUAY, Dequeni Jubilee Magazine •
Dequení is 30 years old, and throughout its history, four presidents have led its board of directors: Alberto Sallustro, Alberto Gross Brown, Fernando Talavera, and Beltrán Macchi. This is a special time; Dequení invited them to a meeting with the children at the Casa de Acogida [The House of Welcome], and they shared their feelings and experiences. They are businessmen, but at Dequení, they are first and foremost volunteers.
Alberto Sallustro is the president of Sallustro y Cia. “I have five children, ten grandchildren, and at Dequení, I have many children,” “Babbio” tells us with a joy radiating satisfaction. When he tells about the beginnings of Dequení he recalls his wife, Ivonne, because Dequení is like their own children, it unites them in dedication.
“The Lord touched my heart; we joined the Schoenstatt Movement in 1984, and we began Dequení along with Bishop Claudio Giménez and the young people of the Boys’ and Girls’ Youth. First in front of Catholic University (in the center of Asunción) with children who “took care” of vehicles; then at the corner of Eusebio Ayala and Calle Ultima at Miraculous Medal Parish. Babbio was president of the foundation for fifteen years.
Alberto Gross Brown is an engineer, and he heads up the AGB construction company. He joined Dequení when they invited him to an introductory meeting about the Foundation. “I never left,” he commented. “For me, it was a blessing to find Dequení. I was president for eight years during a transition period; we had to transform an initiative that was mainly sustained by one family, the Salusstro, into an organization belonging to Paraguayan society. It was a beautiful experience.”
Another engineer, Fernando Talavera followed him; he is a member of the Talavera & Ortellado Company. Fernando was president of the board for four years, although he and his wife Veronica have been volunteers for more than sixteen years. “They were very beautiful times. The foundation grounded me and allowed me to understand that there were other things worth working for besides my business.”
Beltrán Macchi is the Foundation’s current president. He is also the President of the Chamber of Commerce, and he is a member of Visión Banco’s [Vision Bank’s] board of directors, he has an extensive career path in civil and Church organizations. “I have led the Foundation for five years, and many others participating on the board of directors.” The Dequeni experience can be summed up in one word: “Resume.” The renewal of activities such as the Solidarity Walk or the Bread and Wine Dinner as spaces for solidarity has been a challenge for a Foundation that, in the last 30 years, has had to renew and adapt itself constantly.
To work on Dequení’s board as a volunteer
At different times in the organization, each one of them has assumed important challenges, because Dequení faces the constant situation of “not keeping up with the demand” on a daily basis.” Poverty affects more families than can be reached. Beginning with its board, the Foundation moves with the will and the solidarity of the people.
“Dequení certainly requires dedication, but the most important thing is to accompany the people,” Babbio stressed, when speaking about the volunteer work of the board members. “Poverty hurts me, and in Dequení, I feel useful when I help people.”
Alberto Gross’ experience was also one of great commitment: “I dedicated a lot of time to the Foundation for personal reasons. I would say that it was the best thing that has happened to me.” Alberto is appreciative of the support he received from the different areas of society that strengthened the Foundation as an institution.
Fernando Talavera believes the volunteers should assume their commitment. “I believe in being a responsible volunteer in the role that one has. To be president of Dequení is a beautiful work; it demands commitment, but it is rewarded by satisfaction beyond expectations.
The Dequení volunteers have an extraordinary strength to sustain the foundation,” Beltrán stressed. “Perhaps, this is its strongest asset. The volunteers are the ones who move the world and Dequení in a very special way.”
Dreams in common for Dequení
What unites these businessmen is a dream for the country, and Dequení is the place where they work in common. They were asked what is your dream for Dequení?
“I dream of a strengthened foundation, one with greater outreach, not only in a direct way for the children, but also so it can show other organizations or the government the way. Social development is not only about having an income but of having the capacity to undertake and to develop their potential as people.” – Beltrán Macchi
“Poverty can be overcome. My dream for Dequení is that the people in a poverty situation can realize their dreams, their hopes, their desires, and that poverty will no longer exist in Paraguay.” – Babbio Sallustro
“I dream that Dequení will continue to grow in quality and quantity. I dream that it will leave a mark on people for the good and that over time it will leave a very profound mark on the country.” – Alberto Gross Brown.
“My desire is that the Foundation will no longer be so necessary, because we achieved making a difference in public policies in such a way that the State will assume the role that it has in the education and training of our children.” – Fernando Talavera.
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