Nairobi, 4th day: Economy of Communion: in Poverty and Wealth


The fourth day of the EoC Congress at Mariapolis Piero (Nairobi, Kenya): the programme rolls on fine despite (or thanks to?) some unexpected events

by Alberto Sturla and Norma Sànchez

150530 Nairobi Congresso EdC 51 ridThe day began with a blackout occurring just as we were entering the room, which "forced" young people to extend their initial musical entertainment. Without amplification it was easier to involve the audience in a loud chant, accompanied only by the rhythm of the drums. It was thrilling!

Once power and poise were regained, the room was prepared to listen to the topic of the day. Today's topic for discussion was poverty and wealth from the perspective of the Economy of Communion, following the presentations of Lorna Gold and Luca Crivelli.

Luca held a proper keynote on the concepts of poverty and wealth based on the concept of happiness and its measurement. It is difficult to summarize a speech so rich in ideas in just a few lines, so we suggest that you kindly read the slides or watch the video of it as soon as they become available: you will find it truly enriching.

Starting from the difficulty shown by the modern economic and social studies, to measure 150529 Nairobi Congresso EdC 52 ridhappiness and, above all, to understand what it depends on, Luca has shown that, although it is clear that the richer populations are generally happier, it is clear that some components of happiness are not measurable as they have to do with the perception of the self in relation to the context, which cannot be reduced only to economic prosperity. Therefore there is a component of poverty which is derived from the absence of social and relational capital and leads to exclusion and then neediness. Thus, poverty has many faces that cannot be distinguished. Nor is it conceivable to intervene on a single aspect, forgetting the others.

By focusing on reciprocity, fostering understanding and supporting the integral development of the person, the Economy of Communion may offer a solution.
In some way Lorna Gold actually drew the conclusions of Luca's talk, emphasizing the value of the Economy of Communion in the fight against poverty which is mainly isolation and exclusion. Through material aid, but also and especially through the establishment of relationships of reciprocity, the EoC aims to create a shared wellness where those in need may find a way out from poverty on their own feet.

The program continued with the usual panel of experiences. Cristina from Brazil presented the initiative of a public - private partnership carried out for the development of the province of Alagoas, in collaboration with the AMU. From the Philippines, we heard the story of the small grocery store "La primavera" (Spring): the commitment of the owner to the poor in the area shows how communion is not a matter of economic size. The day care centre for people with mental handicap called "La miniera" (The Mine) works in Spain.

150529 Nairobi Congresso EdC 53 ridThe first part of the afternoon was dedicated to the second part of the workshops.  Then everyone returned to the main hall for the second round of presentations of local commissions. France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal and Brazil. Because of the big delay caused by the blackout the sharing of some experiences had to be postponed to the evening session. So there was a presentation and discussion about the mini business park called "the box", which is located in Germany. It is a building in which there are three entrepreneurs who help each other live the principles of the Economy of Communion.

To represent Italy it was the turn of the Associazione Italiana Imprenditori per una Economia di Comunione (AIPEC) (Italian Entrepreneurs for an Economy of Communion), which now has a 200-strong population, from supporters to full members. Livio Bertola, the president of AIPEC, did not want to risk losing the public's attention at the end of a very busy day and turned the presentation into a happening, complete with a slogan in Swahili for the "launch" the association in Africa: "Jambo,  abari musuri sana? Aipec!"  (Hello, how are you? AIPEC!). The audience seemed to definitely appreciate it....