Mizael Donizetti Poggioli, CM reflects on “To be attentive to the security needs of those who are poor.”
Our mission is to serve and to evangelize persons who are poor. Therefore, our Vincentian mission necessarily involves contact with men and women who are poor. Fidelity to our mission means that we are attentive to the needs of those who are poor … attentive to the needs related to their security (attentive to the dangers and privations that they encounter on a daily basis).
One of the aspects that we should be mindful of is the financial security and/or stability of those persons who are poor because it is in that way that people are able to support themselves and their family. Among the factors that make such stability a possibility is access to work.
In the book, Seeds of Hope: Stories of Systemic Change, Father Maloney explains how systemic change functions in the life of those who are poor. He states:
Each of us lives within a socioeconomic system whose parts interact with each other. If the system is working well, it favors personal growth. If not, it thwarts growth and accelerates decline. If, for example, I do not have a job, I don’t earn money. If I don’t earn money, I can’t buy food for my family. If my son does not have sufficient food, he suffers malnutrition. If he suffers malnutrition, he can’t study well. If he can’t study well, he won’t graduate from school. If he doesn’t graduate from school, he may not get a job. If he doesn’t have a job, he doesn’t earn money. So the circle begins again.
Without financial security, the individual person (and consequently, that person’s family), is in a very vulnerable situation.
Financial security also refers to the stability or the maintenance of those persons who are responsible for other members of their family. It is important to be aware of the financial situation of the people whom we serve and equally important to seek ways that will guarantee at least a minimum income to people.
There are employment offices that provide people with different work opportunities. Utilizing these various employment agencies there exists a possibility of helping the people find work. Help people compile a resume and make people aware of their skills and interests and then, look for job training opportunities (if that is necessary). Acting in such a manner is not only an act of charity but is also an act of social justice.
Another important way of helping people who are poor achieve financial security is through micro-credits. Micro-credits consist of offering small interest-free loans. According to Muhammad Yunus (winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize),
access to capital, on a minimal scale, can transform people’s lives. Over the years, many poor people are able to use that little help offered by micro-credit as a basis for building a thriving business — be that a farm, a craft or a small business. It is an opportunity to move individuals and their families from their situation of poverty. A program created to lend money to people living on the streets has helped thousands of people … people who no longer have to beg for a living. Such a system has revealed that the poorest of the poor are worthy of credit.
In our Vincentian work for and with the poor, it becomes necessary to be aware of their personal, physical security. Our mission, as Christians and Vincentians, is to be in solidarity with the poor and thus provide some guarantees with regard to their security. We should look for strategies that support, encourage and promote a variety of initiatives that will generate employment, income, and the democratization of resources … strategies that will ultimately defend the integral dignity of those who are poor.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM
 Various Authors, Seeds of Hope: Stories of Systemic Change, printed by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louis, Mo., 2008, p. 4.
Tags: microfinance, social justice, Unemployment