Pope discusses literacy and dignity with Nita Freire

From the Catholic News Service, 27 April 2015:

ROME (CNS) -- The widow of renowned Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire said her meeting with Pope Francis was intended to highlight the contribution her late husband's ideas can make in the important role of the church in bringing about peace. Historian and pedagogue Ana Maria Araujo Freire said she asked for "a dialogue with the pope" because she "wanted the Catholic Church to know the work of Paulo. It's very, very important ... for peace and tolerance all over the world," she said, adding that bringing about peace and tolerance is "the task" of "this pope and this Catholic Church." The pope agreed to meet April 24 because he knows of and has read Freire's work, said Araujo in an interview with Catholic News Service in Rome April 26. She said her request for the meeting had gone through retired Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, former prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and retired archbishop of Sao Paulo. The pope "considered the meeting with me because of the writings of Paulo, because of the importance of Paulo for the education of oppressed people, poor people, black people, for women, for minorities," she said.

Hear Our Stories: The Moment The Butterfly Flaps Its Wings

We recommend this collection of 13 narratives published by our friends at the Women's Stories Project, based at the Women's Centre for Change, Penang, Malaysia, and PPW (Pusat Perkhidmatan Wanita - the Women's Service Centre). It is written by women who have had seek help from WCC or PPW. The stories are about their lived experiences and articulations of their suppressed pains, silences, dreams and desires. It was originally written in Mandarin. An English translated book is also available for purchase at WCC - details can be found here.

Prospects for the Social and Solidarity Economy

It is increasingly becoming understood that the answer to some of the problems of economic globalization - notably the global financial crisis, high unemployment and sovereign debt crises - is not national retrenchment but enhancing the role of the social and solidarity economy (SSE), including the internationalization of the SSE. While the meaning of the social and solidarity economy varies from country to country, key factors include the ideas of production for a social purpose and responsible consumption. 

The European Network for the Promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy (RIPESS Europe) held its second congress on 5 and 6 July in Lille, France.  Representatives of European organizations and political representatives from different countries' social economy in plenary sessions addressed key issues such as public policies to support the SSE and the future of the SSE in Europe. Workshops discussed topical issues such as responsible consumption, popular education on the model of Paulo Freire, the exchange of good practice in the SSE, the state of the art of the solidarity economy, and the identity of the SSE sector.  The Freire Institute contributed to the event, in particular through involvement in the workshop on popular education.

An intercontinental meeting on SSE will take place in Manila, Philippines, in September.

The alternatives that help fuel Brazil's solidarity economy

Social currencies in Brazil.  Image: BBC.
Social currencies in Brazil. (Image: BBC)

Community banks and microfinance are playing an important role in many Brazilian neighbourhoods, now with support from central government.  This article on the BBC website tells the story.

Shopkeeper Heraldo Rodrigues da Silva, 55, owns a small store in Sao Benedito, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Vitoria, the capital of the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo. On the wall behind his counter, a sign announces that besides the real - Brazil's legal tender - he accepts the "bem", an alternative currency from a local community development bank, Banco Bem. The bank was founded in 2005 by an association of seamstresses who decided to lend their profits to a group of furniture makers so that they too could start their own collective. There are some 100 similar microfinance banks in Brazil, as well as many barter initiatives that also involve social currencies. The banks' aim is to promote the principles of a "solidarity-based economy" which, in their view, is fairer and more sustainable than the dominant capitalist model. Read more »