Upla – Universidad Playa Ancha

Latin America

A participatory system for water management and for the sustainable socio-economic development of the Upper Water Reservoir of the Petorca River in the Valparaiso Region in Chile

The “Participatory system for water management and for the sustainable socio-economic development of the Upper Water Reservoir of the Petorca River in Chile” project, managed by UPLA, the Universidad de Playa Ancha, a Chilean state university based in Valparaiso, has contributed to water security in the Petorca River Reservoir by proposing a participatory model for the management of the reservoir’s water. This has strengthened the network of 25 Agua Potable Rural – APR (Rural Drinking Water) cooperative organizations and extensions of local citizens’ committees. According to Chilean law, the APR network manages the distribution of drinking water in the rural areas of the country.

In Chile, the whole water management cycle, from collection to distribution, is delegated to private businesses. These companies refer to regulations that outline the areas in which they are obliged to organize the distribution of water for domestic and public use or for productive and commercial activities. The Código de Aguas is the set of laws regarding the use of water resources and although it acknowledges that water is a public good, it underlines that water management must meet the market’s supply and demand criteria.

The United Nations Convention on Climate Change classifies Chile as a highly vulnerable country and indicates areas that are susceptible to erosion, deforestation, draught and desertification, with extremely polluted urban areas and also arid or semi-arid areas.

The Estrategia Nacional de Recursos Hídricos 2012 – 2025 report, published in 2013 by the Chilean Ministry of Public Works, indicates that in the last few years, mainly in the Atacama and La Araucanía regions, there have been such frequent and intense periods of draught that there is serious concern regarding possible consequent irreversible erosion of the soil.

Although this serious and complex situation has definitely become a priority for the Government, the current legislation does not appear to be able to provide the necessary laws to deal with the decrease in water resources and the subsequent environmental risks.

The Valparaiso region presents many vulnerable aspects: 906.943 hectares of land are affected by severe erosion, which represents 73.6% of all the soil. The population of the municipality of Petorca is over 10,000 inhabitants. In the urban area the drinking water is managed by a private company, in the rural area it is managed by the 25 APR network.


The initiative supported by the FAI responded to this situation by laying the foundations for better management of drinking water in the municipality of Petorca. The project made it possible to set up REDAGUA, a network of the 25 APR of the municipality, a permanent observatory to coordinate, monitor and assess the policies and management of the water resources of the Petorca river reservoir. The project also raised the awareness of the local community with respect to the risks for the environment and the need for an efficient, integrated and inclusive management of the resources. Pilot projects were carried out to improve the management of the water cycle and to develop family farming.

The interest and engagement generated by the project in the many people who took part can be seen by the fact that, thanks to this experience, a new association was set up in 2016 in Valparaiso. The association is called “Progressio Desarrollo Sostenible”, it is listed in the register of organizations operating in the public interest and is a member of the Chilean Association of NGOs, Acción Chile.

Progressio’s members live in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay, Italy, Albania and Egypt and they include experts in human development with over thirty years’ experience in international cooperation, economists, academics from the Catholic University of Valparaiso and the Federal University of São Paolo, international lawyers, journalists and experts in digital communications. Progressio’s priorities include food safety and sovereignty and rural development in areas at a high social and environmental risk.

Progessio and the FAI set up a new project involving the cattle breeders of the upper part of the Petorca valley, who were identified as the most fragile population of the area because of the environmental degradation and the distressing lack of water in the region.

Un ponte per


The FAI and Un Ponte Per – Middle East

Un ponte per… is an international solidarity association of volunteers that was set up in 1991, just after the end of the bombing in Iraq and the beginning of the embargo, with the aim of promoting cooperation initiatives in favour of the Iraqi population who had been hit by the war.

Since then it has worked to prevent new conflicts, particularly in the Middle East, through information campaigns, cultural exchanges, civil peace interventions, humanitarian support projects and international cooperation, always in close collaboration with the civil society organizations of the countries in which it operates.

After the war in Iraq in 2003, Un ponte per… launched initiatives in support of the Iraqi civil society, which was working to protect its cultural heritage, human and environmental rights, the minorities, freedom of expression and association and the culture of non-violence.

Since 2009 the association has been supporting the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI), a coalition of Iraqi and international civil society organizations that carry out many campaigns. The ICSSI organizes an annual international conference with human rights activists, journalists, trade unionists, women’s associations and representatives from NGO’s from every part of the country. In 2013 the ICSSI became the Iraqi Social Forum.

Some of the ICSSI’s most important campaigns that Un ponte per has supported include: “Shahrazad” for the protection of women’s rights and “Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes” to safeguard the cultural heritage.

The aim of the “Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes” initiative is to protect Iraq’s environmental heritage, its aquifer resources, the Tigris River and the Mesopotamian Marshes. Thanks to the work of the activists, this initiative achieved a great result; in 2016 the Marshes were included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

As a result of the ICSSI project, in 2016 the three-year “Paths of Coexistence in Mesopotamia and the Middle East” programme was set up. This project aims to overcome the social and cultural fractures caused by the war and by Daesh (IS) in the Middle East, by encouraging social cohesion and building trust among the communities that live along the Mesopotamian rivers (in Iraq, Syria and Turkey) and in the countries of the area with the greatest number of refugees (Lebanon and Jordan).

The Iraqi Civil Society’s organizations, which are the direct beneficiaries of these projects, often lack a strategic vision when organizing their campaigns because of the precarious security conditions that cause them to work as if they were in a continuous emergency. They therefore need space in which to increase their advocacy and communication skills. Unfortunately however, it is far easier to receive funds from international donors for humanitarian assistance based on emergencies, rather than for projects that aim to make structural changes that focus on the problems of the Iraqi state and society, which are the underlying causes of the crisis.


The FAI has stood by Un ponte per… since 2009, and through the ICSSI it has provided its support for the growth of the associations that are working bravely and with great determination to defend human rights, to strengthen their skills and community leadership, their ability to manage conflicts and to improve inter-community relations.

The road to peace is a long one but it goes this way too and building a future of peace and coexistence begins with dialogue.


Latin America

The Takiwasi protocol for treating addiction in Perù

In 2004 we visited the Takiwasi centre by chance… there was a garden immersed in the green Amazonian forest, various types of houses and buildings made of wood, a stream, flowers, trees, warehouses… and a pagoda in the middle.

A few months later we started collaborating with the centre which is still on-going.

Jacques Mabit, a French doctor, moved to Peru at the end of the 1990s, with the aim of combining the knowledge of Western medicine with the shamanic culture.

The Takiwasi centre is a place of experimental research and human acceptance, where alternative methods are used to fight addiction. The centre is also residential and people with a drug addiction can start a path of renewal, thanks to the wise use of mother plants, dietary recommendations, psychological assistance, continuous support for the care of the soul, research, training for future employment in a therapeutic context.

Mother plants are used, in respect of the shamanic culture, in order to lift up and lighten the people who are crushed by an addiction. Every single curative step has been checked and monitored with the rationality of Western medicine, in collaboration with research centres and laboratories, in order to be able to produce a real treatment protocol.

Today the Peruvian Government acknowledges the validity of Ayahuasca if dosed and used according to a protocol.

The Takiwasi Centre is now the driving force of an international inter-American network of alternative therapies for limiting and fighting addiction.


The FAI has been working with the centre since 2005, with the aim of guaranteeing a solid organization over the years, achieving an international dimension and at the same time, extending the right to treatment to poor people too.

The figures of these last 13 years can show us the beauty of this method, which is sometimes rigid, consisting of rules but also of care for the soul and the body.

Many patients have managed to leave their addiction behind them forever. The project’s statistics confirm this and they also tell us that in 9 months (period of residential care), we can heal, we can be reborn and can take our lives back into our own hands.


Fighting tuberculosis


In Uganda and in Madagascar with two highly experienced partners: Medici con l’Africa Cuamm and RTM Volontari nel mondo

Tuberculosis is considered the “disease of the poor” because it reaches vast proportions, especially in Africa, when living conditions are extremely precarious. It manifests mainly in rural areas and is exacerbated by the difficulties that the population has in accessing information on prevention, treatment at health centres and in finding medicines.

It is exactly in this context that Medici con l’Africa Cuamm and RTM Volontari nel mondo have been working successfully for many years.

The FAI decided to support their work, particularly in the fight against tuberculosis in rural settings, because of their professional skills and excellent values.


Medici con l’Africa Cuamm is an Italian organization that has been engaged in the promotion and protection of the health of African populations since 1950.

Cuamm has been operating in Uganda since 1958 and to date has sent over 300 health workers and administrative/logistics staff, with an average of 3 years’ service per person.

During the last 40 years, the organization has supported 16 hospitals, in particular in the Northern region, the West Nile and the Karamoja region, with the support of the Matany, Moroto and Abim hospitals.

The FAI started supporting CUAMM’s work at the St. Kizito Hospital in Matany (Karamoja region) in 2014.

The planning activities carried out by CUAMM, in collaboration with the St. Kizito Hospital , the Ugandan Ministry of Health, the local authorities of Jaramoja and the Diocese of Moroto, aim to strengthen the Hospital in order to be able to guarantee adequate assistance for childbirth and new-born children, training for new midwives and nurses and the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, especially resistant tuberculosis.

Regarding the fight against tuberculosis in particular, the aim, which has been achieved, was to increase the rate of identification of new cases in the area and improve the offer of treatment at the hospital and in the health centres in the surrounding area.

Due to the good results achieved by the hospital in terms of diagnosis, treatment and follow up, with a low anti-tuberculosis therapy abandonment rate, the national programme to control tuberculosis asked the St. Kizito Hospital in Matany to become a reference centre for the whole region for the diagnosis of resistant tuberculosis. The hospital would use the new diagnostic equipment recommended by the WHO, the MDR-TB Xpert, which makes it possible to perform a certain diagnosis on the mycobacterium DNA and the diagnostics of the resistance to rifampicin. The equipment is proving reliable and easy to use.

Given the danger associated with handling biological samples with a high risk of transmission, a safe area to work in had to be set up next to the laboratory. The same building also has an area that has been set up for the equipment that produces oxygen and nitrogen, which is soon to be installed and can then start to be used.

While the staff of the Matany and Moroto hospitals were receiving training on how to use the MDR-TB Xpert equipment, training sessions were held for the Village Health Team on the symptoms of tuberculosis and on when and where to report suspected cases from the areas outside the towns to the health centres that are equipped to identify and treat the disease.

The treatment of patients with resistant TB is carried out at their home.

The treatment of resistant TB weakens the organism and in order for the treatment to be effective, the patient has to eat properly. The patient cannot work until after the virus tests negative and cannot therefore provide for their family’s needs. The treatment therefore includes the distribution of food for the patient and their family.


RTM Volontari nel mondo is an Italian NGO that carries out development projects in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. It has been present in the country since 1973, it is recognized by the Malagasy government and it operates in rural, healthcare, food security and fair trade areas.

The FAI established its first contact with the RTM in 2010 in Kosovo, during a monitoring mission. Over time, through interviews and by exchanging ideas, FAI identified RTM, in terms of its actions and its values, as a valid organization to collaborate with.

Tuberculosis is very widespread in the Vatovavy Fitovinany region, as well as in many other Malagasy regions. According to the National Strategic Plan to fight Tuberculosis 2009-2013, tuberculosis is the second cause of mortality (3.8%) in the Regional Reference Health Centres.

RTM is active in the fight against tuberculosis thanks to the “Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria” (www.theglobalfund.org), which is supported by governments and private donors. The NGO has worked in 11 health districts in the country, including 6 in the Vatovavy Fitovinany region. Tuberculosis is a highly contagious infectious disease and if left untreated, it kills over 50% of infected people.

With the drugs that are available today, over 95% of patients recover completely. The therapy is effective if taken every day for at least 6 months. In Madagascar, the treatment for tuberculosis is compulsory and free of charge.

RTM fights tuberculosis by providing food support for the people who have this pathology. In collaboration with the WFP – the World Food Programme, they distribute food supplements to the people who are in treatment so they can follow their therapy regularly and maximise its efficacy.

RTM also works to strengthen the social capital, which is represented by the Health Committees in the Vatovavy Fitovinany region. In January 2009 the Ministry of Health drew up the National Community Health Policy guidelines, which involve strengthening the participation of grassroots communities by establishing a network of community health agents as a link between families and the national health system and local health centres.

The health committees are to all effects “basic national health care organizations and an interface between the community and the health system”. Strengthening the community health agents and their network makes it possible to achieve a widespread presence throughout the country, also in the fight against tuberculosis.

This in turn makes it possible to identify people with the disease early on, carry out the clinical tests that are necessary for a certain diagnosis and look after the patients throughout the whole treatment cycle, thus ensuring that the patients are treated in the smaller and isolated communities as well.


America Latina

Self-determination of a people. The Aché of Paraguay.

The telephone call came from Paris. We didn’t know we were talking to an Aché refugee, who was about to present a project for Paraguay.

We were able to listen to stories that were told in the first person. We’d never have thought we could have access to such an important patrimony, that we would find out about the individual exodus of some of the Aché, who fled to France to escape a destiny marked by a massacre that took place in the 1950’s and 60’s, when the Aché were forced to defend their land and their forests from the colonists.

They were persecuted, starved, killed and the women and children were captured and sold as slaves. They were massacred because they lived in a land that could be conquered, in the violent perpetuation of a hegemony that does not recognize brothers of a same people, that does not admit different knowledge and cultures.

They fled abroad to escape the massacre of an ethnic group.

The love for their country of origin, which is no longer their country.

The intelligence and the determination to rebuild, remember and pass on their origins.

The Project is Bitawa and it comes from the Aché.


Our journey, at a long distance, started in 2004, when we received a LINAJE project, the Liga Nativa por la Autonomía, Justicia y Ética, which was founded in 2000 by some members of the ethnic group, the Aché, of eastern Paraguay. This organization was set up to defend what remains of a people, whose numbers today are reduced to just over 350 families, about 1,500 people and who had their land, habits, and fundamental rights taken from them.

It was difficult for the FAI to decide. We did not know the people we were talking to and our communications were altered by the distance between us. However, we decided to start talking about the project together, without interfering, just trusting such an important cry for help.

We were struck by the uniqueness of Linaje: it consisted of elderly Aché people who live in the woods with other Aché people, who had graduated from Universities abroad and returned to where they were born, to be of service to their people.

We didn’t think this would happen and yet, without ever meeting them personally, we managed to support their dreams of self-determination, of reaffirming their traditions in a modern context.

BITAWA… in order not to disappear, is a project that has evolved over 10 years in various phases, each of which introduces the next one and has been completed successfully.

Bitawa was founded in 2004, initially to start a poultry farm to provide protein in the diet of the Aché community. The aim was then broadened to include productive and handicraft activities, courses in healthcare and culture, printing school text books in two languages and providing courses in communication and journalism.

The project, in six phases, has involved refining instruments used to reorganize this ethnic group, which with force but at the same time peacefully, wants to save its history. The Aché want to train a new generation in the woods and in town, so that they can express political messages effectively.

Their traditions are being kept alive and are flourishing, and through this their original and heritage is being vigorously revived.

In 2014 the Aché took the Paraguayan government to court to sue for genocide.

Mais Onlus


Community development in Swaziland with MAIS ONLUS.

The main aim of MAIS, Movement for International Self-Development in Solidarity, is the economic, social and civil self-development of communities and individuals in developing countries where there is severe poverty and where international solidarity can provide the first instruments needed to set in motion the mechanisms and virtuous circles that aim to achieve self-sufficiency.

The main areas of intervention are the education, through long distance support programmes for children and young people up to university; the protection, in children’s homes for children from rural villages and group homes for orphaned or abandoned children; the healthcare, for the children in the group homes and through disease prevention courses for the adults; the job placement, through vocational training courses.

The MAIS has been present in Africa since 1993, with the opening of the first multiracial state school in South Africa. Many more projects have been carried out in the country and the association has also extended its activities to Swaziland.

This has all been made possible thanks to the launch of important partnerships with the following institutional and private subjects, who have joined the members already present in the MAIS ONLUS and who bring new resources and qualify the action of the association: Médecins sans Frontières Switzerland; the Ministries of Public Education, Health, Welfare, Agricultural Policies; the Waldensian Church; the Bank of Italy employees’ “Goal – Solidarity” association; the Presidency of the Italian Republic; the Sports around the world association.

The collaboration with the FAI, which started in 2006, has given the development of the projects in Swaziland a boost. Swaziland is a small country in southern Africa and it has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in the world. The MAIS Africa had been running long distance support projects since 2004 to promote the right to education and to develop greater awareness of healthcare issues among the population.

The FAI funded the MAIS project to build a Healthcare Centre in Mahamba, on land provided by a local community. The Centre opened in January 2008.

Over the years, the FAI has continued to monitor and support the work carried out by the MAIS, making it possible to increase and develop the healthcare services provided.

Today the “Lynyati” clinic offers a valuable healthcare service for the community since it reaches about 20,000 inhabitants. The clinic offers assistance completely free of charge: the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis; prevention, diagnosis and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS; ultrasound scan; electrocardiogram; preventive healthcare for women (pap test, colposcopy, etc.) are the main services offered to the local population.

The patients are assisted by Italian volunteer doctors and the MAIS provides them with a daily allowance, insurance and the cost of their transport, and two nurses, who are paid for by the MAIS.

The clinic was opened in the presence of the Swaziland King, Mswati III, and has been selected together with two other clinics, to start the government pilot project that involves providing a network of all the healthcare centres present in Swaziland.


The FAI has also supported the MAIS in other projects that are valuable for the Mahamba community: the Group Home and the Community Centre.

The sheltered home “La Loredana” is home to 25 children. It was set up in 2009 to offer orphans and destitute children and young people a safe place where they can feel welcome and the best conditions for studying. There are also HIV-positive children and young people who are guaranteed the necessary medical treatment.

The contribution of the FAI made it possible to build this house and in 2015 also a cottage next to the house. This is for the older children, who are supervised by the staff and learn how to gradually become more responsible and get ready to live on their own.

The Community Centre was built in 2016 thanks to further support from the FAI.

In such a poor country like Swaziland, where the majority of the population lives on less than a dollar a day and the youth unemployment rate is close to 40%, the Centre offers the community the possibility of economic and social recovery. The project involves training for job placements: courses on computer science, sewing classes, mechanics courses, beekeeping courses, and also seminars for the promotion of the cultural development of the population (on nutrition and hygiene and health, and HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns).

During these first years the Centre has trained over 50 people, some of whom have already found work, thanks to the skills they have acquired. It is worth mentioning the beekeeping project, which trains people to become agricultural professionals and which, just a few months after it started, produced the first ever honey in the area.

The Centre quickly became very important for the community since it holds all the public and private events (sports courses, karate competitions, public competitions, parties and functions.



The FAI has been supporting projects in Madagascar since 2003 (18 projects) and in 2011 it decided to adopt a combined approach with respect to the implementation of the projects in the country.

The persistence of the political instability that prevented the return to democratic legality, with a consequent limitation on foreign aid, and the presence of activities already supported by the FAI with established partners in the country, were the circumstances that led to setting up an in-depth monitoring system for the existing initiatives and plans for future action. These activities include services in terms of assistance and networking while respecting each partner’s autonomy.

Regular field missions have been carried out and projects in areas and on topics of crucial importance have been supported since 2011.

Partner: CMC Saint Damien

Topic: health

Support for the Saint Damien Health Centre of Ambanja in order to guarantee hospital and surgical services, paying particular attention to maternal and children’s health; renovation of the Health Centre, supporting the cost of the treatment of poor patients; medical services with a mobile unit in the rural areas of the north of the country (2009 to 2016).

Partner: AVOTRA

Topic: Socio-economic development

Services for agriculture and for safeguarding the productive and environmental system in the Sofia region, using techniques adapted to the context. Agriculture here is the main means of subsistence, there is almost no industrialization and the environmental conditions are often unfavourable. Thanks to the project, a continuous and sufficient food supply is guaranteed to the population, generating an overall improvement in the communities involved (from 2011 and still underway).

Partner: RTM

Topic: Water – Health – Education

Access to drinking water for the population of Tsiroanomandidy, a remote area between the central highlands and the west coast of the country (2011 to 2012).

The fight against tuberculosis in the eastern Vatovavy Fitovinany region, with the aim to contribute to the improvement of the health system outside the towns, by empowering the social capital of the local communities, according to the National Community Health Policy guidelines (2013 to 2016).

Working together for the vulnerable children of Antananarivo in order to improve the quality of their life, and increase the efficacy and sustainability of the educational system in the capital and therefore the quality of their education, through three main activities: strengthening the organization and management of 26 learning centres; increasing the offer of education and training; making parents responsible for their children’s schooling (from 2016 and still underway).

Partner: Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa of Turin

Topic: Health and education

Support for the Catholic Mission of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa of Turin in Ilanivato, a central but severely degraded district of Antananarivo, one of the poorest districts of the capital. The mission is the only organization that provides educational and health services in the area (from 2013 and still underway).

Partner: FMA

Topic: Health

Renovation and support for the Don Mario Hospital, run by the Fondation Médical d’Ampasimanjeva (FMA), in order to increase the sustainability and efficacy of the care of women and children under 5 years of age, in the Manakara health district (from 2014 still underway)

Partner: Ecoles du Monde

Topic: Education

Renovation of the public primary school in Firaisana (Mahajanga) with a small contribution in order to prevent the school from closing. This school was very popular but it could not be used because the roof had collapsed and the toilets needed to be replaced. After the end of the summer holidays (2016), over 700 children were able to go back to school and have regular lessons.

Les Arches

Europe – Asia – Africa

Disability: a life together

Disability is always different, depending on the type of handicap one has and the country in which one lives.

There has been much progress and it is still continuing from a scientific point of view and in terms of inclusive policies and barriers that have been demolished. What has not gone away is the pain of the more severe forms and if one lives with this type of disability in a hostile country, that is poor and is developing slowly, this pain does not diminish but on the contrary, it makes one’s problems worse.


This is why a few years ago the FAI started supporting the message and the communities set up by Jean Vanier, a Canadian philosopher and philanthropist who, in 1964, founded “L’Arche” and “Foi et Lumière”, for people with disabilities.

There are over 140 Arche communities in more than 30 countries. In these communities people with severe and mainly intellectual disabilities live as in a family and the same way as the other people who have chosen to live in the community to assist them. These places testify to the possibility of renewal and human transformation.

The FAI has supported the L’Arche communities in various and progressive ways since 2009. It helped the community of Al Fulk, in Egypt and then in 2017 it supported the opening of a second community in Alexandria.

In Kenya, the St. Martin Community Trust wanted to have and therefore set up the L’Arche community and in fact there are two residential communities, Effatha and Betania, which the FAI supported during their first years of activity.

In Palestine, the Bethlehem communities stand out as non-residential, day-time, highly productive communities. In Ma’an Iil-Hayat and in the new Dar Salah centre the people work with wool, which is often bought from Bedouin families of the people living in the communities. What they make is sold throughout the world and they make a good profit.

These are communities with a proactive and inclusive attitude to the area around them and they always go the extra mile. The core members from the Bethlehem communities go to the oncology department of the state hospital as volunteers, bringing relief and smiles to the patients who are waiting for chemotherapy.

This is how the message of the founder Jean Vanier is kept alive. It invites us to cultivate sincere openness to the wishes of other people, to be aware of the beauty that comes from ordinary things, to support other people in a constructive way and to concentrate on “being with”, being physically close to the people who are in the greatest difficulty.

For the future, we are planning on continuing to support L’Arche communities, maybe the ones in countries that are exacerbated by war, or by deep socio-economic inequality. We are thinking of Syria, where the community still exists despite years of conflict, and needs us to respond to their call.

Il Chicco


Strategic partnerships: the story of Il Chicco in Romania

The mission of Il Chicco Association (Romania) is to offer hospitality, care, psycho-physical rehabilitation, and education and training for the social and professional integration of socially disadvantaged people.

Il Chicco started with its first sheltered home in Romania in 1993, when it managed to be entrusted with looking after children and young people who were “confined” in the “Popesti” Institute of Child Neuropsychiatry, about 60 km from Iaşi, in the Moldavian region of Romania.

From that day until today, more sheltered homes, day centres, workshops, educational farms and a series of activities have been set up, which allowed every person who meets the Chicco to develop the best way. This is also a testimony that deinstitutionalization is the only way to give a person the dignity of a full life.

In 25 years the Sheltered Homes have welcomed 68 children and abandoned young people: 50 of them taken from the terrible conditions of the Romanian state institutions, 14 given in adoption by the Court and 4 from psychiatric institutions.

As a result of the love, caring and life spent in common every day, as many as 32 young people are now on social reintegration programmes, and 10 of the children have been adopted or entrusted to Romanian families.

Today the Chicco offers a wide range of individual and group socio-psycho-pedagogical rehabilitation plans, thanks to the strengthening of the multidisciplinary team, a specific training and the functional improvement of the spaces used.

The services for fragile families and the participation of the community in public events have encouraged the social inclusion of these young people and helped them to overcome the stigma with respect to people with a disability, which is still widespread in Romania.


The FAI has been supporting Il Chicco since 2003. It is a relationship based on the needs that are constantly reported to the foundation. The contributions and donations are provided in order to sustain all the activities.

Since 2015, the FAI has encouraged the collaboration between Il Chicco and the Sementera, an Italian association of therapists and doctors, who have trained Il Chicco staff on how to use the amniotic experience in the association’s rehabilitation programmes.

In 2017 the FAI decided to go further and to divide its intervention in two parts:

• A contribution to the investments made (for example, for setting up the amniotic therapy centre and renovating the accommodation) and for covering the operating costs of the new system
• A fund for promotion and support services, coordinated and partly carried out by the FAI offices; the aim is to develop Il Chicco’s planning and fundraising skills but also to be able to open the amniotic therapy centre.

This is how a strategic partnership was set up, consisting of meetings, study visits and many hours of training to carry out planning, fundraising, relations with public administrations and institutions, in order to improve the management of the association.

Through this fund, Il Chicco has a wide margin of action, which allows it to travel and promote itself, participate in the most important occasions for giving its testimony, carry out training and let its children’s voices be heard.



SPACE Project– Supporting Participatory and Accountable Citizen Engagement

Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation is a Swiss NGO that has been promoting fundamental human rights for over 60 years. It has over 1,600 collaborators and operates in over 30 countries.


Helvetas and the FAI have been collaborating since 2009, when the foundation started supporting the association’s projects in Benin, Nepal, Mozambique and Laos.

Helvetas has been operating in Laos since 2001, with food security projects, fair access to markets and the creation of commercial supply chains, sustainable agriculture and support for farmers’ organizations, education and access to information, resources and services. It has also worked on building roads and bridges, drinking water supply systems and health and hygiene projects and has held discussions and raised awareness on broad issues like access to land, social justice, gender equality and equal opportunities and the active participation of citizens in these areas of their life.

After the declaration of independence in 1954, Laos went through about 20 years of armed conflicts, which in 1975, led to the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) taking control, overcoming the monarchy and establishing a socialist regime.

According to the Constitution of 1991, Laos is formally a parliamentary republic but in fact it is a single party regime. The LPRP has signed treaties and agreements promoting human rights and sustainable development. Nonetheless there is a severe lack of citizens’ active participation in the democratic process, especially among the poorest and most marginalized populations, for example those from the areas included the project’s activities.

Since 2009, Helvetas has been working on facilitating relations between the civil society and the state authorities at local, regional and national levels. The results can already be seen: civil society organizations have improved and they provide more services than before, people no longer consider themselves as “subjects” or customers but as citizens who can hold and express opinions, claim rights and take on duties. According to Helvetas, this change must be supported and promoted.

The success achieved in these years has created relationships of trust with the government authorities and with the civil society and the SPACE project was set up based on this trust.

The SPACE project focuses on the topic of advocacy and helps the citizens of Laos organize themselves so they can voice their ideas, implement their initiatives and influence government decisions. This way they can contribute to a sustainable and inclusive development of the country and guarantee good living conditions, development, justice and social cohesion, also to the poorest people in the most remote areas of the country. The role of civil society organizations is vital since by becoming better organized they can express the population’s requests and start a dialogue with the local institutions and the government.