Portugal, Spain, Slovakia

Portugal: annual report on volunteering The annual “Volunteering Report” of the Faith and Cooperation Foundation shows that in 2014 as many as 900 volunteers have been involved in national and international activity. A release published by the association of the Bishops’ Conference (CEP) informs that according to figures drawn from 61 centres that integrate the Missionary Volunteers Network, “624 volunteers have offered their services in Portugal, while 276 youths and adults took part in short or long-term projects for developing Countries. Mozambique welcomed 74 volunteers, the islands of Cape Verde 71, 38 Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe 36, Brazil 27, the Guiné-Bissau 18 and the Republic of East Timor 9; the remaining three workers have instead offered their commitment outside of Portuguese-speaking countries, two in Bolivia and one in Peru.” The document of the Foundation states that “the majority of missionaries who left are aged 18-35, including students, and adults with a job who devote their vacations to international volunteering. However, in addition to 12 unemployed, 8 of them left their jobs to dedicate themselves entirely to the missionary activities”. Missionary activity focuses on the implementation of education and training programs as well as initiatives in the field of agriculture, social and cultural animation, the construction of infrastructures, pastoral care, health, community dynamics. “The preferential objectives of the projects involve children (17%), young people (15%), families (8%) as well as the improvement of the situation of women (9%).”   Spain: cooperation for development in 57 Countries  Manos Unidas, the NGO of the Spanish Catholic Church, presented its 2014 Dossier featuring reports on public awareness and education activity for development carried out so far, along with cooperation projects and financial data. In the year 2014, Manos Unidas approved as many as 608 projects. Added to those already under way, the NGO currently supports as many as 1300 cooperation projects. The sectors of the 2014 projects are agriculture (94), education (224), health (116), social promotion(95), women (79). The projects, recipients of a 39 million euro grant, are being implemented across 57 countries in Africa, America and Asia, benefitting over 2 and a half million people. In 2014 91.6% of Manos Unidas funds were allocated to the fight against hunger, poverty and their causes in the world, 6.5% to administration and structure and 1.9% to the collection of funds. The revenues of Manos Unidas in 2014 amounted to over 43 million: 87.1% from private donors and 12.9% from the public sector. The members of Manos Unidas, with 40.2% of the donations, are the pillar, but Manos Unidas is also the NGO for the development of the Catholic Church in Spain, which provides a significant percentage of resources. The annual collection carried out by the parishes in favor of Manos Unidas the second Sunday of February, along with donations from other religious bodies, constituted in 2014 26.1% of the revenues. Other funds come from inheritances and legacies and schools. Slovakia: in bicycle and on foot for life “We invite everyone to dedicate at least one day in July to the service of life. Children are a sign of joy and of hope… what else does our contemporary world, full of uncertainty and fears, need?” It is the question of Fr Dusan Skurla, organizer of the second national March for Life planned for September 20 in Bratislava, the “pilgrimage-cycle” for life held in the framework of preparations for the event in September begun the first of July in Kezmarok with an ambitious target: to cross 54 cities in Slovakia to promote the idea of the protection of life from the moment of conception. “We want to meet local populations of good will and pray together in the places where children become the innocent victims of abortion”, explained Jan Hudacek, a coordinator of the pilgrimage, with the hope that inhabitants in these cities may listen to “the joyful message of human dignity from the moment of conception to natural death.” Young participants are 13-year-olds while the oldest is 67. After having covered 2000km participants will convene in the final destination, Bratislava, on July 31st. There is the possibility to join in the journey at any stage.

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