47. Networking in Londrina – Brazil
Based on the mode of action of Murialdo, who in his time connected with and turned to various educational agencies so to offer a better education to young people, the author presents what means networking today. There is a basic principle: to grow in solidarity living in solidarity, since communion is created by living in communion. For this some preconditions are necessary: to know the network and its possibilities; to see the network as an aid for planning-execution-support-evaluation of each project; to live the network as a kind of shared and participated work; to share in the network with respect and through dialogue across differences; to ensure that young people themselves are protagonists joining and working on the network. Popular participation and social control, aswell as monitoring and evaluating experiences, are other important elements so that the network can express its full value.
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47. Networking in Londrina – Brazil (Carlos Wessler)
Pedagogy of Love, in the style of Saint Leonard Murialdo, is the soul of his ministry / mission; a pedagogy based on human and transcendent values. One of the theological places to experience this love are the poorest and most vulnerable children and adolescents, in whom the mysterious action of God comes about.
Saint Leonard Murialdo developed a strong education, resorting to the “forces of his time” and committed to building a more just, humane and caring society, within a network of promotion and protection of the rights of children and adolescents involving: government , Church, schools, families, media, unions, associations, cooperatives, committees, religious congregations, alumni, donors, volunteers, etc.
In Brazil, our work and charismatic mission are integrated into a network, “Promotion and protection of children and adolescents’ rights Network.” The work is done in collaboration with the various basic social policies (education, health, social welfare, labor, housing, etc.) and with churches, movements, neighbourood associations, private and public companies, unions, councils, forums, office of minors, Lay Friends of Murialdo, related social institutions, etc. In addition, all educational activities are dialogue and interact with the existing network in the workplace.
Concept: the social assistance network as charity
The network as charity among brothers has a purpose: to help improve the lives of those served by it and let them become protagonists of their life and salvation history. Charity here is not seen as a mere assistance but as a joint commitment to overcome the misery in which children, adolescents and youth are living. Hence the need for network; ie for a joint action among the agents of charity; action motivated by the conviction of God’s love and by the fact that their actions will lead to social, economic and religious changes.
Bingemer writes: Growing in solidarity, living solidarity means therefore, according to Christian faith and the doctrine of the Church, living moral values that continually lead to the recognition of others’ personal dignity – whatever their state of life and social status – on a level of equality with yourself, and to commitment to the lives of all, especially the poor and the enemies (Social Doctrine of the Church and Liberation Theology, Sao Paulo, Loyola Press, 1994).
Knowledge of the Network
In order to be efficient and effective in social and educational activities we seek to know the existing network in the neighborhood and in the city where we live, as well as having a broad vision so to get to know about programs/organizations and the users and their needs .
Knowledge and networking facilitates attention to users, with appropriate guidance, quality care and cost reduction. All attention is recorded and documented; and at the same time typed in an integrated data over the Internet to control the actions done for recipients.
Network as an indicator for planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
The network appears as a useful tool and a good indicator for planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the action, among the social partners; it facilitates participation of the excluded in the development processes of actions and allows the use of the knowledge needed for action strategies and problems solving.
We know that isolated and disjointed actions fail to change the dynamics of social vulnerability to which users of social services were and are subjected. The network perspective provides for those working in social policies new parameters and vectors which will contribute to the humanization of their users.
Network: a form of work, participation, values and objectives
For networking it is very important that all know each other and communicate their way of work. Many bodies are still organized as a “pyramid,” ie in a hierarchical way, where there is the boss who makes the rules and internal laws, commands all sectors, decides alone and where deputies only transmit his orders. In networking, however, communication and organization are its working way, sharing values and goals; mutual respect, reciprocity, co-responsibility, empowerment and strengthening local and collective power are valued; networking brings together individuals and institutions in a democratic and participatory way around common objectives; power is distributed and shared according to the responsibility/function assumed by each; there are autonomy and empowerment of participants; physical structures can adapt and change and there is an open and fruitful relationship with the government, businesses, the third sector, etc.
Network follows the principles of autonomy, co-responsibility, flexibility, diversity of opinion, respect for the dignity of all forms of life, culture, religion and diversity, promotion of sustainable practices, protection of the environment and observance of environmental legislation. As for the actions to be done it follows the principles of decentralization; participation (on boards); focusing (creation and maintenance of specific programs); sustainability; integration and mobilization.
Leadership and participation in the network
In the social-welfare network, the child and adolescent are recognized as full players in the system, since what is at stake is the guarantee of their rights. The youth must occupy their space, assume their role. Young people have the opportunity to participate in developing the standards of conduct of the institution, in assessing their educators’ quality of teaching, in suggesting improvements in physical structures, in being organized with their representatives in front of the institution board, in representing the institution in councils, forums and public and private events and, especially, in strategic planning of activities.
Popular participation and social control
In networking developed in Brazil popular participation and social control are highly valued. Tools are developed identifying priorities and monitoring and evaluating situations and rendered services; actions, monitoring and evaluation are planned; indicators for assessing the socio-care services are constructed involving users; direct interventions to assist children, teens and young people and their families are prioritized, fighting every expression of discrimination and exclusion. Any information about social-welfare attention on the net is recorded and published daily; we work together with government and nongovernmental agencies participating in social-welfare and intersectoral networks as a way of integrating public and private actions; we participate through representatives of the entity in the councils of rights and social assistance at the municipal, regional and federal level and in the forums too; we offer ongoing training for workers and managers responsible for the Information, Monitoring and Evaluation System is; and budget transparency is sought, using resources as indicators of vulnerability and risk require, searching for positive results.
Monitoring and evaluation
In the development of each service project and social program, there are clear criteria for monitoring and evaluation. Evaluation is a key to increase the actions done in each social program and project. The evaluation relies on the contribution of the technical team and the educators, the youth who are helped, their families and the care network, whether public or private. The objectives and goals to be achieved should be clear to everyone.
Evaluating the effectiveness of social welfare programs is a way to measure the results of the work done, as well as to provide a moment of reflection for the youth, their families and educators, in order to stimulate the development of subjects protagonists of their history and of change to a better, more just and sharing society.
The participation and integration in the network provides: lifelong training and formation, sharing of experiences, overcoming vulnerabilities, monitoring and protection of children and adolescents in a more professional and qualified way, contributing to the improvement of services, mutual support in solving eventual problems.
Fr. Carlos Wessler