From Grassroots Mission to UN Headquarters
By Marita Nolasco Capili, SP
My name is Marita Nolasco Capili, SP, and I am a member of Congregation of the Sisters of Providence. I have been on mission in El Salvador for the last two years and serving as the President and Administrator of the Providence Beca (Scholarship) Program in the Bajo Lempa region of the department of Usulután. The primary mission/ministry of the Association of the Sisters of Providence in El Salvador is to support and facilitate the education and formation of youth and young adults through the Providence Scholarship Program.
It was very Providential for me to attend, as an observer, the 55th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development, which took place in New York City on February 1-10, 2017. My gratitude to the leadership team of the Mother Joseph Province of the Sisters of Providence. I was captivated with the theme; “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all” and intrigued as well as inspired learning about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The big question mark in my mind was: “How could it be possible to achieve the 17 goals to eradicate of all forms of poverty by 2030, especially the immense challenges that our world is facing today?”
I came to New York with a lot of questions and with curiosity and openness to learn something new. Stepping in to the United Nation building for the first time, I felt privileged to be surrounded with people from different countries and cultures. The UN is a home for all Nations and a place of dreams and hopes and global solidarity. I listened to the open exchange and the dialogue of ideas expressed by representatives from different countries, all of them speaking about their progress and their challenges, the root causes of their poverty and their action plans. As I listened, I saw and experienced a global hope, especially for those people who are “on the ground,” face to face with the reality of different forms of poverty.
So, what did I take home from this experience? I brought home with me the “Good News”; the manifestation of the body of Christ. I also shared my experience with those around me and I acknowledged and encouraged them in their vital contribution to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda.
At our monthly Beca (Scholarship) meeting, I shared my experience from the United Nations with our 80 students and facilitated a dialogue with them on the theme of the UN Session I attended. I found a video on YOUTUBE in Spanish about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which helped me to convey the message and urgency of this global movement to these Salvadoran youth.
In our Scholarship Program, each student participates in a community service project such as protecting the environment, pastoral ministry, sports activities with the children, tutoring children with their reading and writing and giving service alphabetization classes to the elderly as well as offering them other services.
As we looked together at the United Nations strategies for eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development, we could recognize our sharing in this UN agenda with our “Amor Solidario” (Love in Solidarity) projects of the Providence Beca Program
My time at the United Nations also helped me to become more aware of the importance of collecting, evaluating and sharing data on our social and economic realities. This data enables us to interpret the signs of our times and the needs of our brother and sisters. Good data collection, evaluation and sharing of the evaluated data is an important tool that can help us to identify who and why some are being left behind and then strategize how to reach those left furthest behind. In the beginning, I commented that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are very ambitious but at the end of my time in New York, I realized that we can be very ambitious in collaborating with God’s vision for humanity and all of creation. We can do all the possible and let our Provident God do the impossible.
What’s the next step for me? With the help of my Providence community, I would like to continue to be involved with Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and UNANIMA. First, I would apply for UNANIMA’s Catherine Ferguson Scholarship Program. I believe it will help me broaden my knowledge and expand my world view. Second, to begin to get to know the three Religious Congregations who are members of UNANIMA that are based in El Salvador.