The Vincentian Family in Ukraine: Connecting Global and the Local levels – Advocacy at the UN

161026 Ukraine 2thmb[NGO-UN] By Fr. Guillermo Campuzano, C.M., 
NGO Representative to the UN,
Congregation of the Mission

Recently, I was invited to visit Vincentian Family works in the Ukraine.    I saw consecrated lay persons and ordained members of the Family dreaming, interacting, and serving together in a very natural, collaborative way… clearly this is the model we are called to imitate! 

In the Ukraine, I experienced the Family’s works with homelessness, refugees, rehabilitation for drug-addicted persons, health care for homeless persons, afterschool programs for poor children, the national Catholic Students’ Fellowship (International students from Africa and India), ecumenical works, and the like.   These were courageous ministries addressing many challenging dimensions of the local reality, in deep connection with ministries of evangelization and spiritual animation to the minority Catholic communities.

I met a visionary lay Catholic, Stefan Valo, who is very involved with works of the Vincentian family, and who has devoted his life and resources to educating others about climate change.  According to Valo, draining water from our soils is as responsible for climate change as greenhouse gas emissions. He has developed a unique method of raising the groundwater levels and reviving streams and rivers to address this issue.

This trip confirmed my understanding that:

  1. The presence of the Vincentian family at the United Nations can be enhanced very meaningfully if we continue to be bold in raising our collective voice for advocacy and in developing projects through which we share our human and economic resources. Together, we can be more effective in serving the poor through direct service, systemic change, and advocacy which influences social policy at the local, national and global levels.
  1. We must be aware of the link between international and local levels in a globalized society or our understanding of reality will be naïve and could lead us to a narrative and set of actions which may perpetuate the very injustices and structures which oppress and alienate the poor whom we want to serve.

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161026 Ukraine 1Being in the Ukraine raised questions which help our Family connect the dots between global and local situations.

  1. How are the needs where we live connected to global trends, whether related to the environment, health, education, social services, international conflicts, or other issues?
  2. How are the personal experiences of Vincentian Family members near me connected to universal experience?
  3. What are some familiar aspects of all cultures, and how are they addressed similarly or differently where I live and in other areas of the world?

Vincentian Family members in the Ukraine impressed me with their awareness of the importance of establishing global connections.  If we wish to collaborate as Vincentian Family, we must identify relationships on which to build.   Let’s ask who else in the world is affected by our local issues, concerns, and trends.  Then we must pose the reverse question—how do global concerns/trends affect us locally?  From there we can create common links and share best practices in resolving problems.

I heard a popular song during my visit entitled, “Give Ukraine a Helping Hand.”  This could be a rallying song for our Vincentian Family works:  Give the World a Helping Hand!

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This is an abridged version of Fr. Campuzano’s article.  You can read the whole text on website HERE

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