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2nd day of the EoC Congress: for a culture of communion

The second day of the EoC's International Congress at Mariapoli Piero (Nairobi, Kenya) is dedicated to the culture of Communion.

by Alberto Sturla and Norma Sànchez

150528 Nairobi Congresso EdC 42 ridMariapoli Piero (Nairobi, Kenya), 28 May 2015 - If yesterday showed the way that the EoC should follow for a new African economy, today and the future are intended to provide the tools to follow it quickly.

The main theme of the day is presented by Genevieve A. Sanze, with her presentation entitled: "The culture of communion from the perspective of the charisma of unity". Starting from the all African concept of "Ubuntu", which more or less means "I am what I am because of what we are all together", Genevieve tracked something that community solidarity, which is also typically African, has in common with the charisma of unity of the Focolare Movement."

Communion gives a reciprocal gift in which whatever is exchanged cannot be evaluated according to the terms of the market, because giving and receiving do not involve only goods but also values such as generosity and gratitude.

Vittorio Pelligra, an economist at the University of Cagliari put the issues raised by 150528 Nairobi Congresso EdC 11 rid Genevieve in an economic perspective. If it is true that culture is born out of life and that the economy is an expression culture, one wonders how the culture of Communion could contribute to economic development. The finding that in countries where the culture of respect for diversity is more widespread the per capita income is higher is supported by data, and leads us to say that a certain kind of cultural climate has a direct impact on the economy. Therefore, the EoC entrepreneurs have the task of producing and disseminating those "common goods" constituted by the values ​​of reciprocity, trust and justice... so that such goods that are "fragile" by themselves (everybody would like them but no one wants to bear the cost to "produce" them) become part of a shared culture where virtuous behaviour is rewarded and opportunism is punished.

The second part of the morning was dedicated to the presentation of some experiences of the Economy of Communion, coming from several countries of Central Africa, as well as Italy and Australia. It was a way to understand how the ideals of the EoC can be passed on 150528 Nairobi Congresso EdC 18 ridin the world. In Africa, where the main problem is access to essential services by large segments of the population, the EoC gathers entire communities around itself who can thus face social problems with their own force. For example in the village of Glole, on Ivory Coast, the community takes care of children whose parents are busy working on the cocoa and coffee plantations all day through. In Italy, where the problem is the new poverty, the Polo Lionello Bonfanti has provided a space for the free exchange of goods called "Fagotto". And finally, in Australia, where capitalism is galloping and the problem is more the access to credit, the emphasis is placed on trust and reciprocity.

In the early afternoon participants were divided into various working groups: Politics, Development projects, Microfinance and Poverty, Startups, Scholars and Young Researchers, Management, Entrepreneurs' Networks, the EoC in Dialogue with African Cultures. After that, back to plenary, there was an update from the Americas, Asia and Eastern Europe.

The presentation by the Americas' was very varied but consolidated. The local initiatives are very engaging, aiming at the dissemination of the EoC values ​​through expos, conferences and schools. And you can already see the fruits: some young people who had participated in the Summer School 2014 in Mexico took the EoC to Cuba, where now, taking advantage of the more relaxed economic policies, they are trying to spread a new entrepreneurial culture. In Latin America, companies collaborate and contribute actively to local development, while in the United States their intervention is aimed at social emergencies, looking for creative ways to spread the EoC and the quality of relationships - the latter effort has also brought international awards for some companies.  As for commitment in the EoC, 150528 Nairobi Congresso EdC 24 rida student from Indianapolis has been able to get an internship at the White House.

Teresa Ganzon CEO of Bangko Kabayan, brought some updates on the situation in Asia. There is a very dynamic representation there that arouses the interest of academia and local business. In Asia, too, commitment to the community is evident mainly in the developing areas like in the Philippines, where the EoC has received applications for acceptance right from the beginning.

In Eastern Europe, the EoC is promoted by entrepreneurs spread across 13 countries. Young people are very curious about its argument, so that now the training schools can be considered a regular event in that area of the world.



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