November 23, 2009.
In the 1970’s father Andrea Cristiani and ten teenagers started a movement to promote peace, solidarity and tolerance. They named it Shalom. Now, 35 years later, the movement is more than 30 thousand members strong.
The movement was born in Italy and developed programs in rich countries to raise awareness of the situations in poor countries like India, Iraq, Bosnia and Uganda, the places they worked.
Father Andrea Cristiani
"I think sooner or later human consciousness, intelligence will get tired of seeing these aberrations, to accept that every second a child dies of hunger. It's something you can hardly say it’s impossible. It is a monstrosity. How much more can human consciousness take to realize this? ".
Shalom projects are focused on improving food security through the construction of infrastructure such as wells or ovens; along with literacy by building schools and improving health through medical clinics.
That’s why, Shalom also has a presence in Africa, the continent torn by conflicts.
"There are many things to do, but the first is changing the mindset to establish an equal partnership between developed and underdeveloped countries and a reparative relationship with the continent. I would tell the same thing to Africans who don’t really love their country. Probably the first enemies are themselves."
Father Andrea Cristiani, who considers himself African by adoption, is convinced there is a utopian struggle to end violence.
"Peace in Africa is possible if there is a common will, by the rulers of Africa and the great colonial powers who must cultivate relations of genuine and disinterested friendship. Then halt the power of multinationals, developing a new trade."
In addition, the movement has launched an agriculture program in the continent which allows families to continue selling their products without multinational corporations taking advantage of them.
"In November we began a program of agronomy at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, because we think one way to improve the situation in Africa is improving agriculture. We also believe it’s the only way to fight hunger."
Shalom also promotes child sponsorship programs. Most of the children are from Burkina Faso where over 10,000 are living with the help of a second family.
Andrea Cristiani is convinced the future of these countries is in the hands of its citizens not in the hands of the guerrillas or the multinationals.
But first, according to Father Cristiani, the rest of the world needs to realize they have an obligation to contribute to this development.