Hoy Article Features WBC 50 Years of Success
Translated to English for your reading enjoyment is this February 16, 2014 Hoy Article…
The Catholic organization was a pioneer in the involvement with working children in Latin America and today is recognized as a leader in this field.
Father John Halligan, SJ, known by all as Padre Juan, is the ” father ” of the Family of Families of the Working Boys’ Center (WBC). In 1964, the then young Jesuit priest began his work in an attic of the Church of the Society of Jesus. The organization is now celebrating a half century of success.
Fr. Halligan started working with 200 shoeshine boys and soon realized he would need a “mother”: the Working Boys’ Center is, as its name boasts, is a “Family of Families.”
Finding her took three years and when she arrived, she arrived with a special gift of commitment. Still today, Sister Miguel Conway of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), and Padre Juan are the heart of the Working Boys’ Center movement.
The WBC is committed to working with families and understands this process requires the involvement of the entire family.
This requires active involvement of those who carry-out this work. It demands an attitude or openness, cordiality to others and acceptance of what the others can teach us; all attitudes that come from deep within the heart.
In his research on the methodology of the WBC in 2008, Nadia Rodríguez explains that this is an open and flexible approach focused on “doing with the people” and not “for the people.”
The transformation cannot come, according to Padre Juan, “even if they are given food, clothing and training without them taking their destiny into their own hands along with a firm desire to get out of their situation.”
Looking for that change, many families come voluntarily to the WBC and go through three processes: integration, development and output. Usually families arrive by reference from another family or by invitation from leaders of the WBC, many of whom are graduates of the Center, who stayed there to serve and help.
During its 50 years of service, this Catholic organization has helped more than 6,000 families, providing education, food, and health services. But, most importantly, they teach values that serve one forever – loyalty, personal formation, family, religion, education, economics, work, recreation, health and housing – the WBC’s ten core values.
Testimonials taken from the memoirs of WBC to be published during the anniversary celebrations:
Myriam Chasiluisa , WBC Director of Social Area No. 1
She dreams of twice the number of families…
“The WBC has given us everything: education, family. But when leave is up to you if you want to be here contributing something. And it has nothing to do with economics, it’s personal. We speak of gratitude, compensation, self-determination to serve, to help.
My dream would be to double the current population of the Center, motivating them to excel as families, as individuals, that they would see it as something possible. ”
Carlos Gomez, first generation WBC shoeshine boy
Carlos is currently a teacher and director of the WBC.
“I was 10 years old and was shining shoes in the Plaza Grande. I saw a gringo and said, “Shoe shine, mister?” While shining, the gringo, Padre Juan, talked about a place where you could go to eat , play … I went to the attic of Gonzaga High School : it was beyond belief!
The WBC gave me very important values. Being a Jesuit organization, our guide is Jesus.”
Marco Polo, Education Program Coordinator
“When I arrived in 1978 there were three workshops: automotive, furniture and metalworking. With the philosophy of involving the whole family we expanded to include plumbing, beauty, sales, and sewing.
The members here have the advantage of carrying human values created on the basis of family, work, togetherness and solidarity. These are important to apply to the work environment. ”
Juan Carlos Oquendo Tates , graduated 1992
Juan Carlos is a robotics expert and author of novels.
“I was 6 years old, had no money and had to leave school. While working at a car shop, my aunt heard about the Center. It seemed like a fantasy. My mom finished primary school in adult education and we graduated together. After 10 years of working in the medical field, I am now in charge of Robotic Neurorehabilitation System IESS.”
Ready, Set, Teach!
The road leading up to the first day of classes at the Center is challenging! That challenge exists for two parties – our new year long volunteers (YLVs) and our trusted orientation leaders, John and Corry Cochol. It’s truly amazing how the new YLVs are transformed into teachers of English, art, physical education, marketing, health and much more as a result of their intense training. What a fabulous group of young people committed to serving others and acting as role models of Christ’s love!
This short video shows the transformational the YLVs go through..