When the Daughters of Charity in Puerto Rico responded to the inquiry from the United Nations' NGO Committee on Social Development about their experience of social integration or the lack of it among those with whom they live and work, what follows are their observations and concerns:
Question 1: In your experience, what are the main barriers to social integration?
-Racism based on skin color, nationality, social class, religion, politics, etc.
- Cultural marginalization, the disintegration of the family
- Religious pluralism or the increased number of religious sects/denominations
-Neo-liberalism and political imperialism
Question 2: Examples of good practices and programs that encourage social integration.
Project Life and Hope: Counseling and therapy services for families, children and adults. Efforts are made so that the people realize these services are beneficial to the community because they make them better citizens who share and are integrated into communal activities.
Music Project: after school hours, integrates students from diverse communities that are in conflict over drugs and other issues.
There is solidarity among NGOs that want to promote the poor and marginalized sectors through the establishment of micro loan incubator projects for those who can’t get access to traditional banks. This is in its infancy but very similar to what the Vincentian Family is trying to establish in Haiti.
Question 3: What can governments and international institutions do to encourage social integration and an inclusive “society for all” (what kind of policies are needed)?
--Reduce government bureaucracy, that the government be seen not as a way to get rich but to serve.
--That democracy be authentic and not a fiction, as it is in the majority of countries.
-Disinterested economic support by the government to works of social justice.
--That programs for the young be established in universities and schools with the focus on helping them become promoters of social integration through clubs, foundations, alliances. This would be a sort of a vaccine for the new generation against the virus of profit and individualism that the neo-liberal system / culture promotes.
--Campaigns that promote the equality of all people.
Daughters of Charity serving in Argentina responded from their experiences with the most vulnerable to the NGO survey on social inclusion/integration, sharing their reflections, concerns and hopes.
In your experience, what are the main barriers to social integration?
· The disintegration of the family
· The lack of the opportunities to procure higher education and a profession
· Uncontrolled violence
· The deterioration of and lack of social services
What are examples of good programs and practices the encourage social integration?
St. Louise School, Caracas imparts a complete and quality education on the levels of preschool, primary and junior high. We strive to from conscientious citizens with Christian commitments, competent , and in solidarity with these commitments, open to the present and the future, capable of bettering their situation in life and in solidarity with the needs and difficulties of others.
· The education community participates in solidarity campaigns to benefit people with low incomes. There is an organization, “Fathers of Families,” with great effort they promote Christian and human development in the surrounding neighborhood. They strive to promote integrated growth with and for 350 young children in the primary and intermediate levels. The children come from country and city area. They prepare them for life by means of activities that involve them in building skills for life. They also work to stimulate the children’s abilities to help build a new and a just society.
What can governments and international institutions do to encourage social integration and an inclusive “society for all” (What kind of policies are needed)?
Emphasize and honor human rights.