Two bursaries for students financed by the EoC

Two bursaries for students financed by the EoC

After 21 years what has been the impact on indigence?


Jena Debbaneh of Lattakia, Siria, and Cristina Viano of Turin, Italy, arrived last October and are part of the group of young researchers working towards their doctoral degree at the IUS.  Both have won a scholarship bursary put forward a year ago by the International Association for the Economy of Communion (AIEC), to undertake a qualitative and quantitative research that will evaluate the impact of EoC initiatives on poverty. 
The research, lasting a year and renewable for a second one, is financed with a part of the profits sent in by businesses committed to the project at an international level and destined for the ‘formation of new men and women.’


Jena Debbaneh, the second one from the left, and some of her colleagues at IUS


Jena Debbaneh in particular, has chosen to join the financed research to a program of doctoral formation at the IUS in Civil and communion Economy, under the supervision of professors Luigino Bruni and Luca Crivelli, of the Economy Department, to plan the research format, and for the elaboration of empirical analysis and data discussion.
After a few months of work, through a brief interview (edited by Antonella Ferrucci), it is possible to have a better idea of the experience unfolding.


Jena, what is at the root of your interest in the Economy of Communion?


One needs to look at my adolescent years for the origins, when together with a group of friends, during the summer holidays we were trying to help the people in the slums surrounding the city.  Following that, I studied economy and I had the opportunity to work for the World Bank and therefore, for the United Nations on projects for the reduction of poverty.  The objective was the poor themselves and the work was done in a very professional manner, but, to my great discomfiture the interest focused on the ‘number of poor’ instead of on the ‘individuals’ themselves.


When did come to know about the EoC?


It was in the fall of 2010: I saw a video in which Chiara Lubich was speaking about EoC projects so as to alleviate poverty and I remember thinking that could be an answer to my questions. The idea of orienting production of goods with the purpose of sharing and equity, with the objective of growing a society without poor people fascinated me.  I looked for information to see whether it was about a ‘real’ project and whether I could apply it in my situation and in my own country as well.  I had tried to participate in an international Summer School but the war spoiled my plans because it was impossible to leave Syria.  A few months later, the scholarship bursary was made known and I said to myself: maybe this is the way.  It all went well, I won that bursary and now I am here, at Sophia.


What are the objectives of the research undertaken?


From the project’s beginning it has been 21 years:  years of action in very different geographic and cultural contexts.  What we are intending to evaluate is the impact on poverty these initiatives of help promoted by the EoC have had, their effect on situations of personal and collective indigence aimed at by various forms of support.

After having worked on the format of this research in the first little while, having been able to enjoy the characteristic framework of the IUS, along with students coming from all over the world, now we are in the second phase, that is, the real and proper analysis of data.


We already have quite a number of data available: for years now the International EoC Commission produces an annual Report which synthesizes the project’s installation: the businesses involved and their development, the destination of profits devolved, formation functions and EoC Schools, the industrial parks….


But a further step must be taken.  Here we might use an evangelical metaphor: we are interested in knowing what the person rescued by the Good Samaritan did after having recovered from the thieves’ attack.  Did his life change?  How?  The EoC takes on the role of the Good Samaritan with its projects of help for the poor: what has happened in these 21 years to the people who have become ‘objects’ of this help?  Does the unrolling of their story presents particular characteristics   associated with the EoC?  The Gospel does not tell us what happened to the person aided by the Good Samaritan, but in doing this research, we intend to discover it.

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