Our Re.Te. group is formed by people with different competences and experts always available for consultation. It aims at finding functional but easy technical responses to the needs of our collaborators working in developing countries. Our main aim is allowing local communities to improve their living conditions and autonomy.
Re.Te. group aims at supporting effective development projects, like the use of renewable energies, availability of clean water everywhere in the world, food sustainability, the building of infrastructures, humanitarian missions and the promotion of global ethics and new lifestyles.
Sermig was founded in 1964, when a group of young people joined Ernesto Olivero in order to defeat hunger with acts of justice and promote development. The name of our organisation, meaning “Young Missionary Service”, perfectly summarises our goals. We immediately understood the imbalance between reality and our dreams, but not fearing it became our strength.
At the beginning of Sermig, contacts with missionary friends operating in the Third World introduced us to global ethics, helping us learn that social injustice and resource wastefulness caused by consumerism threaten human dignity and hinder peace. These are the reasons behind our commitment, that is also personal, starting from our own space and spreading to the whole world.
In addition to this, in the 1970s we created the "fasting dinners” as moments of prayer and reflection in which to share a meal with the poor. Thus, even if just for a moment, ordinary people can experience hunger. During the day, instead, we plan different works to collect surpluses while reflecting on solidarity and wastefulness.
Another project we launched is sharing with the poor the equivalent in money of a working day. Our idea has been supported by many people, including artists who offered a show, and we also spread to squares to promote solidarity through art exhibitions, debates and meetings. In addition to this, we support interventions in situations of great difficulty and after natural disasters. Immediacy of help is a characteristic of Sermig. Our empathy does not last just the time of a news, but it becomes a concrete action in favour of whoever is in need.
If we look back at 1976, spirituality became stronger as Sermig founding ideal, because we understood that our whole life can be lived according to what we keep in our hearts. The idea of sharing gained strength and became the lifestyle we chose. You do not need to share more than you have, but just who you are: your time and your material, spiritual and intellectual resources, as tools to support life. Sharing became another founding ideal for us, always gaining new force in our meetings with the poorest.
This is why Re.Te. group was founded in 1981, as a concrete example of sharing. Our care for global ethics found many supportive friends who always helped us finding useful solutions in favour of the poor, and our desire to involve the people in the development projects for their communities shaped our interventions in the countries of the Third World. Thus, in 1987, Sermig created CIS (International Cooperative for Development) to manage its activity in the Third World through the support of spiritual communities in each place.
What stroke us most is the tragedy of hungry, abandoned, raped and exploited children, or child soldiers that stimulated our concrete commitment against it. Dom Luciano Mendes de Almeida, bishop of Mariana (Brazil) and CIS cofounder, always reminded us that children are not the problem, but the solution to it, and a healthy development is primarily focused on children and the answers to their fundamental needs, like a caring family, a home, food, health, education and a safe community. In 1991, in Salvador de Bahia, Pope John Paul II nominated Ernesto Olivero “loyal friend to all the children in the world”, thus giving even more strength to our commitment. This is how our project “Vita ai Bambini” (“Life for Children”) was created. It has supported actions in favour of disadvantaged children in Brazil, Georgia, Romania and Bangladesh, among others. Thousands of people have financially helped those children with a monthly donation and, for the 40th anniversary of Sermig, we launched our campaign: “Salviamo 100.000 bambini” (“Let’s save 100.000 children”). It is an invitation to support a specific project for helping children in their countries through the involvement of their local communities.
Since the end of the 1990s, we have been feeling a growing hunger not just of food, but of values, justice and God’s presence. This is the reason why young people meeting at the Arsenal of Peace founded their own movement, “Giovani per la Pace”, formed by people sharing the same dream and believing that global change depends on individual commitment. Those are our young friends, fully committing in favour of development.
Sermig is neither a bank nor a sponsor. It supports projects that develop from the meeting with people and local communities and linked by some ideals that represent our philosophy. Indeed, we believe that each project needs some fundamental basis to be successful, continuous and spread:
the aim of building, or rebuilding, the social fabric:
for us, it is fundamental to help the creation of a local community, with strong spiritual values, able to coordinate activities in favour of social welfare; the promotion of wide involvement:
with our projects, we wish to involve a great part of the population to support diverse activities;
the aim of developing the ability to act and choose: we design each activity to promote self growth and the development of individual potential through solidarity.
Our commitment for the project "Vita ai bambini”: we have always been caring for the weakest, who usually are also the most disadvantaged. Thus, our commitment in favour of children is based on our belief that a healthy development can start just from their protection. This is the reason why many of our projects aim at the creation of a future for children, through access to education and the improvement of life conditions within their community. We also needed to share the difficulties faced by disabled people in developing countries, where they are often marginalised. Thanks to our intervention, we helped them to improve their living conditions and become more active within their communities.
Our actions are not just coming from outside each community, but they actually aim at supporting self-development, so that the people within it become active protagonists able to involve all the local characters. Thus, our projects become models and concrete proposals also for other realities and their local authorities.
In addition to necessary interventions for hospitality and other services, like health care, housing and food provision, we aim at developing projects for income generation to support business and professionalism and concretely respond to the needs of work and development through job training and the launch of enterprises suitable for the local market.
Then, for our interventions, we always consider gender roles, so that we can understand the relations between men and women in each society. Indeed, we know that in many communities the actual role of women and its social recognition are still unbalanced. So, it is fundamental that each project does not support only women’s practical needs, like water, food and health care, but also their personal growth, in particular through education, up to the highest levels. Therefore, we organise income-generating activities with women to make them experience shared work and strengthen their confidence in their power to change their lives and those of their families and communities. We strongly believe that giving strength and power to women improves the safety and development of the whole community. The objective of gender equality is specific to our interventions in favour of human development, but it is also present in all our other projects, from fighting against hunger and poverty to education, reducing child mortality, improving health care and environmental and resources preservation.
It all derives from our conviction that we do not need everything to happen immediately, but gradually, with the help of all the people benefiting from it to plan use and timing, according to the context. We work hard constantly, with a clear goal in our minds and hearts. Thanks to modern real-time means of communication, we keep contacts with all the communities we help around the world to create a family and a global village that have at their heart the individual and their life and support a balanced development, respect for the weakest and environmental conservation.
Starting from where we live
Sermig has always been discovering the world through people witnessing it: volunteers, missionaries, journalists and common people who share with us the problems of the places in which they work, asking for our help to solve them. We have always been aware of the problem of hunger that kills 100.000 people every single day, even if there are enough resources for everyone. So, we asked ourselves: "What is our position?
And what can we do?”. We realised that, for changing the world, we need to start from the place in which we live
, by adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle for “a simple life, so that everyone can simply live
”, as our friend Dom Luciano Mendes de Almeida
used to say.
For us, this means to commit every day to sharing our time, abilities, intelligence, money, professionalism, who we are and what we have to support social welfare. We share these ideas with all the people and communities we work with because we believe that it is the only way to concretely pursue justice through individual involvement, for the solution of great problems. This is how the greatest non violent revolution starts, through empathy and reflection.
The everyday experience of sharing pushed us to create many different projects that, starting from our area, spread in the whole world. This is how “Global Saturday” started. It is an activity that, every Saturday afternoon, involves many people in the preparation of humanitarian aids to be sent in many different countries, the design of technological solutions for developing countries and debate about global ethics, through the meeting of the people who receive our help.
We collect food, medicines, clothes, stationery and hygiene items and our expert collaborators select and repair objects that can be still used, so that nothing gets wasted.
Thanks to the help of many young people, many aids are selected and sent all around the world. Their commitment also favoured the involvement of local authorities in projects for communities living all around the world.
Everything we do in our area is based on our belief that many single actions are like little drops that together form an entire ocean. Even when our actions seem small compared to global problems, they are anyway useful to improve someone’s life and, when they become part of a wider project, they contribute to change a part of the world. A growing community, open to the world, becomes a seed of peace and can produce unexpected results.