The 6th International Fondacio Congress ended on Friday, May 5, 2023, at the Sichem center, 20 km from Lomé, Togo. During one week, 120 delegates and guests, coming from 20 countries around the world, elected a new presidency, worked on the renewal of the association, voted on two main orientations for the next five years (youth and integral ecology) and immersed themselves in solidarity projects in Togo… A joy to be together, to come together, with and for the world! Day-by-day account.
Day 1: Sunday May 30
120 delegates and guests, coming from 20 countries around the world, including ten in Africa, gathered at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in the parish of Zéglé Yéyé, in Sichem, to attend the opening mass of the 6th International Fondacio Congress . Many songs punctuated the celebration, which lasted two hours. Then the delegates returned to the Sichem Center, in Kpomé-Dzogblakopé, at the end of the morning.
There, the 6th International Congress was officially inaugurated by Father Bertin Agbobly-Atayi, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Lomé, on the theme: “A time to change, let us build a desirable future”.
Day 2: Monday May 1
After the presentation of the results of François Prouteau’s mandate (2018-2023), the delegates voted “yes” at 87% for a new team of five co-presidents at the head of Fondacio: Cécile Villegas (France), Kathleen Deckmyn (Belgium ), J érôme Tozé (Benin), Ignacio Rosselot (Chile) and Benoît Vignon (France). The latter will assume the role of president in the legal and canonical sense.
“The task is heavy, the challenges multiple: we felt it was time to enter into greater co-responsibility “, explains Yvonne Altorfer, outgoing Board member and co-organizer of the 6th International Congress of Fondacio. Several countries are already operating with co-presidency teams: Belgium, France, Burkina Faso and Chile. The same is true for the Asian continent.
In the afternoon, delegates and guests worked in small groups to clarify roles and expectations for the next Council. As a reminder, the latter can have up to 12 members, including the five new co-presidents. Friday, May 5, a motion was voted to extend the 6th Congress in a phase 4. This will give time to the new co-presidency to constitute its Council and to clarify the different roles, on the basis of the work of the delegates.
Day 3: Tuesday, May 2
Immersion day. Four different groups discovered the solidarity projects supported by Fondacio in Togo, including Ange, AsFoToDe, Succès +, Mon refuge, Sichem Agro-DR… In the partner village of Ketapui, which has 2000 inhabitants, the Sichem center has, for example, helped with the construction of a drinking water point (borehole), toilets, school buildings and reforestation since 2004. A facilitator, Tchotcho, a sociologist by training, makes the link between Ketapui and the center of Sichem. She follows eleven villages in all. The primary school accommodates more than 400 children and eight teachers.
Another example is the new Sichem Polytechnic Institute (IPS) , which opened in September 2022. It has 38 students and three CAP level classes: electricity, agroecology and construction . François Prouteau, to agroecology students: “The land is generous, it gives us everything we need. You are forming yourselves for yourselves, but also so that other places like Sichem can grow elsewhere. Thank you!” For Matthieu Dardaillon, co-founder of Ticket for Change and guest: “It’s very inspiring to see these young people training in these fields to build their future, that of their families and their country. These are key skills for a better future.”
In the evening, François Prouteau and his Council passed the baton to the new co-presidency team. “We made a great team that held on until the end, in momentum and diversity,” said François Prouteau, president of Fondacio from 2013 to 2018, and from 2018 to 2023. “I am happy with this co-presidency, with the Congress and the Council that is preparing. I am full of momentum, energy and recognition.”
For Marc Bezançon, in charge of International Fundraising, “your commitment and your loyalty to Fondacio are impressive. Thank you, on our collective behalf. “Yes, a period of your life is coming to an end and it is time to chair a new one”, concluded Nicolas Cordier, outgoing vice-president. “We give thanks for who you are, your attitude of service, your ability to bring people together. You invite us to heading for a habitable land. “
Day 4: Wednesday May 3
Working day around the renewal of Fondacio. Intense in emotion, with constructive speeches. At the end of the day, two guests shared the fruit of their observations: Catherine Rivière , business leader, and Matthieu Dardaillon , social entrepreneur. For Catherine Riviere, “Immersion was a shock. Fondacio has everything you need and it works! I drew strength, energy from there. I come here to open my heart to difference. Interculturality is an incredible richness for each of us: if we don’t open up to each other, we can’t move forward. You have this strength.”
Matthieu Dardaillon underlined: “What first struck me positively was joy. Right away, with the songs, there is a fervor, a very strong enthusiasm. Something shines in your eyes when you talk about faith. And then there is this spirituality in action: this faith becomes concrete, with these commitments in the world. From this perspective, you are the change you want to be for the world. To conclude: there is enormous potential here. You do wonderful things.”
In the evening, very talented young actors gave a theatrical performance on the theme of forgiveness. The words of the director still resonate: a young man, a talent!
Day 5: Thursday, May 4
The day opened with the planting of around thirty acacia trees at the Sichem Centre , with the association Apevia (Action for a green and inclusive economy in Africa) . Thirty others had already been planted a few days before the start of the Congress. The objective is to plant 5,000 trees by June to offset the carbon footprint of the Congress.
The morning continued with the intervention of Professor Agbati Koffigan, director of TMSU international and founder of the Farm-School Agroecology Bioenergy, in Dalavé, not far from Sichem. Its vocation: to develop an economically efficient agriculture, beneficial for humans and respectful of the environment. Then the delegates worked, in small groups, on the orientations of the next mandate (2023-2028) , to retain two main ones: youth and integral ecology.
Three agents of change spoke about their missions at Fondacio. Lise , first, permanent in the Esvière Center, in Angers: “Our ambition is to stimulate a new way of inhabiting the planet and living there together. It is a place of training, encounters, experimentation, action and renewal. What gives me joy is that people come to this place to give a little of their time. » Then Liliana , director of YLDC Potosi, in Colombia: “Our center welcomes young people who are unemployed and who are not studying. We support them so that they enter higher education. It gave plenty of fruit. Today we work with three colleges and support around 300 students. »
And finally, Aleona , coordinator for Laos, involved in the service of the YLDC project: “Being on a mission involves getting out of your comfort zone. While in the Philippines, I am very independent, in Laos, I depend on many things: a car to get around, a translator… I realize that through this, I need others to succeed my mission. A success for me would be that we learn to give space to young people, so that they become leaders. They have extraordinary potential. I saw in the projects in Africa young people trained, standing up. I really want us to continue to generate this group of young people who want, who are generous, who are standing on the ground. »
In the evening, the 20 delegations present paraded in the colors of their country , in traditional outfits, for a festive closing evening of the 6th International Congress of Fondacio.
Day 6: Friday, May 5
After the vote of a motion extending the Congress in a phase 4, to finalize the composition of the Council, the assembly lived two strong moments: first, the washing of the feet in small groups, agreeing to receive us one others. Then, with candles, the outgoing Council symbolically passed the torch to all the delegates, who in turn passed the torch to the incoming co-presidency.
Many thanks were addressed, in particular to the GAD, the discernment support group, to the singing team but also to all the organizing teams, from Togo, the Africa office and elsewhere!
Congratulations to all for the success of this 6th International Congress!