Looking for harmony

Armonia

"The Oscar A. Romero Reflection and Solidarity Group was established at the initiative of several Catholic laypersons who were trying to identify and disseminate information on the role of Christianity in a socialist, atheistic society," said its general coordinator Gabriel Coderch.

"We are marking the 25th anniversary of the Group's foundation this year. We have always favored diversity and integration in a just and humane society," he added.

"Our non-profit organization is aimed at promoting sustainable development through educational actions," he told SEMlac.

"The idea is also to develop a culture of peace based on social participation, solidarity, respect for differences, comprehensive discussion, and effective communication," he indicated.

"For this purpose, we organize training and sensitization courses, workshops on inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, and launch awareness-raising campaigns," he stressed.

For the good of society

"Participants in these community-based events discuss a wide range of issues, including inequality, violence, gender, and citizen empowerment," said Zulema Hidalgo, one of the Group coordinators.

These meetings are intended for religious and non-religious people interested in a socially equitable society," she added.

María T. Díaz, another Group coordinator, highlighted the importance of theoretical knowledge. "It provides the basis for practical work," she noted.

Zenaida Soca, manager of a community project in Alamar, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Havana , told SEMlac that the Group has actively supported all their activities.

"They include the non-industrial production of rag dolls, aprons, pot holders and bags," she commented.

Saying no to violence

"We have been implementing other actions such as fighting family and gender violence, which is still a social phenomenon in Cuba today," said Coderch.

"Deeply rooted in patriarchal traditions, it hinders women's empowerment and social communication," he added.

"We have managed to involve boys and girls as well as men and women in our socio-cultural activities," Hidalgo commented.

"We need to make ordinary men play a more active role in fighting violence and male-chauvinism," she indicated.

"We have trained community leaders not only in Alamar, but also in Pogolotti and Buena Vista, two towns west of Havana," she stressed.

Prospects

"We plan to continue working for social harmony and communication on the basis of diversity," Coderch told SEMlac.

"We seek to change old ideas and promote human growth through participatory and environmentally friendly actions," he added.

"Our main challenge today is to put an end to a predominant, male-chauvinistic, homophobic, racist and sexist culture," he concluded.

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