Caritas staff discuss themes for a future global anti-poverty campaign. Photo by Ryan Worms
As Abraham Lincoln put it, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.”
With that in mind, delegates of 20 Caritas members from around the world joined staff from Caritas regional offices and the Caritas Internationalis Secretariat in Rome this week to prepare for a year+ joint anti-poverty advocacy campaign in 2013.
Over three days, participants talked about what needs to be in place to make the camapign a success so that it has a real impact on the lives of the poor.
Hopes are the campaign will be a cornerstone in Caritas Internationalis members four year strategic plan, approved during their General Assembly in May.
“The meeting was a good place to exchange ideas,” said Martina Liebsch, Caritas Internationalis Director of Policy and Advocacy. “People brought their passion and their regional and national perspectives. It was a stimulating taste of the work to come. The diversity of our confederation of over 160 members is a great resource,” she said.
This week’s meeting was aimed at establishing the logistics for the campaign, brainstorming around themes and on how to mobilise so many members at the same time.
“It will be a challenge,” said Campaign Coordinator Alfonso Apicella. But he said that the enthusiasm of those taking part will propel the campaign forward as preparations get under way.
Three external keynote speakers provided different views on poverty.
Sr. Helen Alford, OP, of the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas discussed spiritual and theological perspectives.
Dr Rosemary Vargas-Lundius of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) spoke on about taking people out of poverty, especially women, through more support to farming.
Dr Thomas Stelzer, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, gave a lively on the state of the world today and the levers available to Caritas to influence change on poverty.
Next steps will be to set up working groups on advocacy, theology, communications and campaigning for Caritas members’ staff. For Caritas staff, please visit the Baobab to find out more.