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Anniversary Celebration of FEDICE

June 9, 2007

XIII Anniversary Celebration of the Ecumenical Foundation for the Integral Development and Educational Empowerment (FEDICE)

(translated from the original Spanish by Global Ministries)

It was a morning full of sun in the middle of a rainy winter's week.  The beautiful weather made it easier for the leaders of different Andean communities to arrive in Quito to celebrate the XIII Anniversary of the Ecumenical Foundation for the Integral Development and Educational Empowerment (Fundación Ecuménica para el Desarrollo Integral, Capacitacién-Educación) also referred to as FEDICE.

Before the Anniversary celebration happened, a breakfast meeting of the Ecumenical Fellowship took place led by Reverend Felipe Adolf. The breakfast was originally planned for 35 people but 62 people came.  The Executive Director, Blanca Puma Martínez, gave the opening welcome to the Catholic and Protestant church members that were present.  Puma asked an indigenous member to pray in his native language called quicha and it was followed by everyone signing "We Are One in The Spirit."

Víctor Hugo Vaca, FEDICE Advisor, gave the reflection entitled "The Family of Jesus" based on Mathew 12: 45-50.  The main points were: a) It does not matter the culture, ethnicity, religion, and gender of a person, everyone is a member of the Christian family; b) FEDICE can be that Christian family if it is the will of God.  The challenge is to understand and discern what is the will of God in a society where 65 percent of the population is in poverty and out of that 25 percent live in misery; a society in which the distribution of wealth is unequal with high unemployment rates and with a large number of Ecuadorian migrants leaving the country.  The majority of Ecuadorians live in an unjust society in which a small, elite dominates and oppresses the people socially, politically, and economically.

After the reflection part of the session a breakfast was offered to all who were present and Reverend Felipe Adolf continued with the events of the agenda of the FEDICE.

The Executive Director, Blanca Puma Martínez, and her team of workers did a Power Point presentation introducing their programs and projects.  The projects address overcoming poverty in indigenous and rural communities of Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, and Chimborazo.  The President of the television station TV Asoma Visión spoke to congratulate FEDICE for its anniversary and for all the work FEDICE has done.  Later other leaders from Catholic and Protestant organizations offered their gratitude to FEDICE for their outstanding work.

After the meeting of the Ecumenical Fellowship which took place in the assembly hall of the Catholic Mission of Saint John of Eudes, which works with our institution, a ceremony took place.  The organizers of the ceremony were the leaders of the FEDICE, representatives of

various regional and local institutions, leaders of Christian churches and indigenous communities, a representative of the Government of the Province of Cotopaxi, a representative of the Technical University of the North (Universidad Técnica del Norte), and a representative from the Indigenous Movement of the Province of Cotopaxi.  Other people that helped in the service were: the President of the Parish Council of Guanado, Vice-President of Parish Council of San Rafael, the Coordinator of the Defense Coalition of the Incapacitated, President of the Evangelical Church Association of Imbabura, and a Representative of the Central Agricultural Services.  The presidents of the women associations: "Building a Future," "New Life," "Women for a Change," "The Savings Box of Curiquingue," "Women in Action," "Yugshiche Alto," "Guanado," "South Pupaná," and "New Hope" also participated in the service.  Also participating was the President of the Association of Churches of Huaycopunga and San Antonio de Ibarra.

The opening welcome was given by the president of FEDICE, Professor Maria Isabel Durán.  She expressed the joy of being in the presence of such distinguished leaders of churches and institution.  In unison everyone presided to sing "We Are One in The Spirit."       

The Executive Director, Blanca Puma, welcomed the people especially the leaders of groups and institutions from the Andean Mountains.  The atmosphere of the service was one of celebration in which the people participating showed their gratitude towards FEDICE for the work they have done to benefit the indigenous and poor communities.

Advisor Víctor Hugo Vaca, who was one of the founders of FEDICE and served as Executive Director for 12 years, gave the first speech.  He remembered how volunteers from the past Rural Ecuadorian Pastorate worked together for six months discussing the demands and needs of various communities.  New community development strategies were analyzed.  This new sustainable development should be based on new ideologies of justice and social change involving understanding and the dignifying of indigenous identities.  The Foundation also should be based on the defense and respect for human rights.  Strengthening community organizations and capitalizing on existing human, economic, and material resources in order to benefit the communities was very important.  Respect towards nature and the environment and securing appropriate technology for the farmers was also discussed.  Making sure the economical resources are geared towards the liberation of the people, which by making efforts and mutual help, they will be able to live a better life.  The Advisor remembered the birth of FEDICE on April 11, 1994, in Quito which happened without one cent.  The dinner celebrating the Foundation was served with foods from the different founding communities.  The realization of these efforts brought local donations.  From the United States, the Christian Church Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ contributed with personal and economic resources with Reverend David Vargas helping to create the new project and offering his support.     

Later there were speeches from the different members of the group.  The representative of the Government of the Province of Cotopaxi expressed his appreciation and admiration toward FEDICE for their work with the indigenous communities in his province.  He was especially thankful for FEDICE's work towards increasing the autonomy and dignity of indigenous women.

One of the speakers was Clelia Mazón who belonged to one of the communities of Chimborazo and who was one of the victims of the eruption of the Tungurahua volcano.  Mazón emphasized how the FEIDICE helped teach the communities to not accept charity, rather to work in a cooperative way utilizing the existing resources in the community.  Mazón very emotionally gave a commemorative plaque as a form of gratitude to the Executive Director, Blanca Puma.  

A representative from Chacha de Cotopaxi affirmed that with the technological advances given by the FEDICE, 39 families are able to break the cycle of poverty.  These families have built micro-businesses that better society.  The businesses are part of the Corporation of Production and Development of Cotopaxi whose president is a chicken farmer.   

Blanca Viracocha is a pastor of a Protestant church in Romerillo.  Viracocha presented two choreographed dances expressing the fruits of all the hard work and efforts of the agricultural communities "the ones whose tears sowed a happy harvest."  Viracocha is very thankful for the FEDICE because they were able to learn how to work collectively, save, and form their own Savings Box.  With their Savings Box, they are able to create their own internal credit, with up to two thousand dollars, without as many banking requirements and guarantees.

José Sangoquiza stated that he represented the individuals that were invisible to society, the disabled.  Thanks to the light of Jesus, they now have a social, economical, and political presence and, with the help of FEDICE, they will advance further.

Antonia Cajamarca said that for years women have been forgotten in the institutions.  FEDICE has helped women grow as people and as community leaders.  Now women are able to administer and steer their own projects gaining dairy, rabbit, and chicken farms whose progress has benefited their families.   

Representing 13 congregations from the province of Imbabura, two from Guayas, and two from Spain was Minister Pedro Aguilar.  The minister told the people that were present that God is manifested through FEDICE and it is because of this manifestation so many joint works between churches were able to take place.

Some of the creations of such collaborative work were the construction of churches, school dinning halls, Sunday school classrooms, and currently a project of the planting and harvesting of fruit for the making of marmalade. 

Aguilar also thanked the mission groups from the United States that worked in constructions, traveling clinics, Christian education, and ministerial training.

In the same way, the minister, Antonio Amaguaña, was thankful for the help of the forgotten community of Florida, in the district La Esperanza in Imbabura Province, for their help in the expansion of the sanctuary, the construction of the Sunday school rooms, the building of a dinning hall and kitchen which are presently serving the community.

Rosalino Bautista presented a performance with a group of musicians and dancers to express his gratitude for the collaborations that are taking place thanks to FEDICE in the community of Tolontag.  One such collaboration is the technical assistance to help diary farms.  Bautista stated that FEDICE has helped in unifying the groups, gathering technological, nutritional, and family-life knowledge.      

The end of the service was a highly emotional moment for all who were present.  The Vice-President of FEDICE, Ana Ramírez de Funes, and the Executive Director Blanca Puma vividly expressed their gratitude.  They handed Doctor Washington Guarderas and Víctor Vaca plaques of recognition for their important service with FEDICE.  Guarderas was thanked for being one of the founders and President for twelve years.  Vaca was thanked for being one of the founders and for his service as Executive Director.

Later FEDICE offered a lunch for more than 160 people who attended the assembly for the celebration of the XIII Anniversary of FEDICE.  It is important to note that many of the representatives of the different organizations and communities brought food for the "communal lunch."  It was similar to the time in which Jesus was able to feed fish and bread to the crowed of followers, there was always enough food for everyone.

Prepared by:               Office of Resource Development
P.O. Box 1986
Indianapolis, IN  46206
Tel:  (317) 713-2555
Fax:  (317) 635-4323
Email:  gifts@dom.disciples.org



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