“Networking is one of the traits of vital ministry”
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil/GENEVA – 23 July 2015 (LWI) - A Lutheran foundation in Brazil is weaving together a group of small diaconal institutions to create a network that will enable its members to become stronger and better resourced.
By connecting some 60 social organizations under the umbrella of Rede de Diaconia – or the Diakonia Network – the Lutheran Foundation of Diakonia (FLD) believes members will collectively reach more people, particularly woman and youth, than they would do alone.
The FLD is the diaconal arm of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil. The goal of Rede de Diaconia is to enhance diaconal work in Brazil, a country in which a large number of small institutions often work in isolation or without the support of a larger body.
“As the network supports 60 institutions, over 1000 people must be more or less directly linked to it,” the Lutheran World Federation Secretary for Project Coordination and Monitoring, Ilona Dorji, says.
According to the Executive Secretary of the FLD, Cibele Kuss, networking is one of the traits of vital ministry. “Supportive relationships between churches and organizations with a purpose help bring focus to diaconal work through group learning, mutual coaching and opportunities to discover new perspectives with like-hearted community players.”
Areas of concern include human rights and gender equality
Human rights, gender equality, support to the disabled and elderly, as well as food security are the network’s main areas of interest.
“Rede de Diaconia aims to serve Brazilian society through a system of support, monitoring, evaluation and better coordination of diaconal projects,” Dorji said. It reaches beyond Lutheran confessional boundaries to address issues such as human rights, domestic and social violence, indigenous rights and food security and sovereignty. In such a geographically large country, the network comes into its own in strengthening diaconal work and collaboration, she said.
The LWF has supported Rede de Diaconia for three years. Since the creation of the network, at least 10 new organizations have joined each year.
During the first phase, from 2013 to 2015, the network was set up and promoted amongst diaconal institutions. It created training programs, particularly for women and youth, built a website and formed a partnership between FLD, two regional groups and the Gender Research Group of the tertiary education institute Faculdades EST.
The network is expected to expand and reinforce its significance as an organization for supporting and connecting diaconal institutions. The concept of diakonia networks could be replicated in other regions or countries, Dorji said.
Through joint activities and more workshops and seminars, the network wants to strengthen the role of youth.
The second phase of Rede de Diaconia is expected to start next year.