Yesterday, the first Fe y Alegría Congress in Africa, which took place from January 25th-31st in Chad, came to a close. More than 40 participants gathered together from Chad, Madagascar, Kenya, Togo, Central African Republic, Guinea Conakry, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Zambia, as well as representatives from JESAM (Jesuits of Africa and Madagascar), the International Federation of Fe y Alegría, Jesuit Refugee Service, Entreculturas-Fe y Alegría Spain, Alboan, Porticus, and Misereor.

Fe y Alegría, one of the largest non-profit educational institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean, has since 2007, with the founding of Fe y Alegría Chad, been working to spread its educational mission in Africa. A work of the Society of Jesus and recognized in successive General Congregations as one of the most important Jesuit networks working for justice in the world today, Fe y Alegría annually reaches over 1.5 million participants in low-income neighborhoods and rural communities.

Participants in the Fe y Alegría Africa Conference had the opportunity to visit several schools in Mongo, Chad, where Fe y Alegría first established its roots on the African continent. They also participated in the inauguration of a school in the village of Ghelati and helped to place the first building block for a new Fe y Alegría high school.

Daniel Villanueva SJ, Director of Entreculturas – Fe y Alegría Spain shared that throughout the visit, there was a spirit of celebration, and participants were able to witness the transformation and level of empowerment that has taken place over the past five years in the community, “fruit of years of sustained accompaniment with authorities, teachers, parents, and students, who today feel that the “Foi et Joie” project is now theirs.”

Throughout the week, members of the group were able to learn more about and better understand the identity and work of Fe y Alegría in the African context, as well as discuss challenges for the future.

A historic moment for the Fe y Alegría movement, we look forward to following and seeing how the fruits of this Congress help to expand the Fe y Alegría network and educational opportunities for students, families and communities throughout Africa.