"There is a network of educational institutes connected to the Society of Jesus in my country," explains Francisco, also known as Paco, who is a member of the Development and Procurement Office (DPO) for the Peru Province, based in Lima. "This network includes two universities, four high schools and the Fe y Alegría of Peru schools." (Fe y Alegría is a popular educational movement which, per its website, seeks to form Peruvians who are "democratic citizens with Christian values, academic expertise and trade skills that meet the emerging economic and material realities of Peru.")
Paco adds, "The DPO collaborates with the Society in Peru in the search for financial, human (volunteers) and material resources, as well as by offering various services. The office plays an important role in that it contributes to the development of the mission of the Jesuits by seeking to improve, help administer and sustain the Society's apostolic works and endeavors in Peru which, in addition to education, include social justice and pastoral work."
Already twinned with the Chicago-Detroit Province, the Peru Province is in the process of developing a similar relationship with the Wisconsin Province as well. Twinning involves an agreement of mutual support – including the exchange of ideas, personnel and educational resources, and occasional financial assistance.
In the spirit of collaboration and solidarity with the Peru Province, the Wisconsin Province hosted Paco in June, and advancement office staff discussed awareness-building and fundraising ideas and strategies. His visit here was preceded by English language study at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
"Our provinces share similar goals, but in different contexts," Paco says of his conversations in the States. "For example, we all want to make people's lives better through education, social justice and spiritual development. However, 35 percent of the 29 million people in Peru live in poverty (most are indigenous people), and more than 3 million children are laborers. For reasons like these, many of our projects have as a priority to improve economic circumstances."
In support of such projects, Paco's position includes researching and maintaining foundation grants. He and Province leaders are also hoping to build the donor base locally in Peru – with a natural area for potential growth among alumni of Jesuit schools.
"Historically in Peru, there are great economic divisions, so the idea of raising money is very complicated," Paco explains. "A culture of solidarity with the poor is not strong. We hope to change this way of thinking, to develop more of a philanthropist mindset among those who can help people who are less fortunate than they are."
"With growing vocations, strong projects and continuing collaboration with our partners," he adds, "we have great hope for the future."
Learn more about the Peru Province at Jesuits.pe.