"Defending" the dignity of human life sometimes is not enough, it turns out to be much more useful working for the "prevention" and "the education of young people to values and virtues". This is the everyday commitment, in Venezuela, of Christine Vollmer, one of the lay members of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Ms. Vollmer has been actively engaged in "Alianza para la familia" (www.alianzaparafamilia.org), a non-governmental organization that is committed to "build a better society through universal values and strengthen the fundamental role of the family". Sir interviewed her.
A new educational approach. The NGO has prepared a program, "Aprendiendo a querer / Alive to the World / Caminhos de Vida", addressing students ranging from elementary to high school. The course, originally published in Spanish in 2001, has been later translated into English, French and Portuguese and is now used in many schools all over the world. "The program, in 12 books - says Vollmer - presents the story of a group of friends who face the typical situations of growth. The course is aimed at making young people reflect on their own choices and their consequences: the themes – with an approach which is appropriate to their age - are the family, friendship, peer pressure, romance, sex, love, marriage, loyalty, teamwork, personal responsibility and respect for the property, just to name a few. "This approach of using a story that develops over several years had never been attempted before". Christine Vollmer also said that her work "began when the youngest of my seven children was attending school, and now that all of them are married I dedicate myself totally to my new work – she is eager to emphasize – and this has improved my family life and gave us all a better understanding of the family and children".
A "generous" population. Despite the educational efforts of many people, the families in Venezuela, as in many other countries, suffer under the "pressure of materialism" and are affected by a propaganda that "urges constantly to 'have' rather than 'being'". "In this cultural context - Vollmer observes - it becomes difficult to educate children". Then there is the "social but also economic pressure on mothers to encourage them to work outside the home, a pressure which acts both on poor families and wealthy families alike". On the positive side, one should recognize that in this South American country there is still a "deep faith" and "the population is genuinely generous, although church attendance is sporadic". In fact, the majority of the country is Catholic but the holy images business and other forms of worship are "gaining ground". The faith of Venezuelans becomes more visible on the occasion of major feasts and in their widely prevalent pro-life attitude. Ms. Vollmer also noted that one of the main problems of Venezuelan families is "their lack of fatherly figures, although family ties in terms of loyalty and respect are very strong, despite this deficiency".
From an impoverished country. In the country there is much interest in the World Meeting of Families in Milan and "many groups are getting organizing to participate, even if Venezuela is totally depleted". Basically, this is the very same thing that happened on the occasion of the World Youth Day in Madrid, when "thousands of young people managed to find the money they needed to go to the event".
(24 April 2012)