Fazenda da Esperanca: An adventure of hope
When I first read about the Fazenda da Esperanca or the Farm of Hope, I was greatly moved. It is a unique faith based response to the challenge of addiction today. It is open to someone keen on setting on a new path for life, welcoming persons with dependency and addiction, mostly to drugs and alcohol, and also those who are addicted to gambling, and other things.
Unique rehabilitation center
What it has to offer compared to other rehabilitation centers is to help people discover a new life, leading them to a personal discovery of God-Love as the source of light and happiness that brings fulfilment. Abstinence from drugs comes about as a natural consequence. People working in Fazenda are all volunteers and some are graduates of the rehabilitation program, all with the same desire to share the fullness of the love of God.
Their recovery from addiction program is based on its three pillars. One is COMMUNITY: where love and unity are lived as in a family. Two, is WORK as a concrete way of assuming responsibility for one’s life. Third is SPIRITUALITY, to give meaning and direction to their lives. Family like relationships are important so that everyone is at the service of the other.
Fazenda da Esperanca is a therapeutic community with over 30 years of experience in the recovery of drug addicts all over the world. It all started in 1983 in Brazil when Father Hans Stapel , a German Franciscan friar invited young people of his Parish to meet every day after mass and reflect and live the words of Jesus . He was later joined by young people Nelson Giovanelli, Luci Rosendo and Iraci Leiti. They started a movement that has given new life to drug addicts believing “that as long as there is life there is hope”. It was a program inspired by the spirituality of the Focolare Movement.
From the first Fazenda sprang up several communities in Brazil. Today there are more than 80 communities in 14 countries around the world with around 3,000 people undergoing rehabilitation.
Fazenda in the country started when Father Pierino Rogliardi, the Parish Priest of Mary Immaculate Parish in Las Piñas offered a piece of land owned by the Parish foundation to the first group of Fazenda missionaries and volunteers who arrived in June 2003.
With the support of friends from the country and abroad, they developed the land into a beautiful community. Soon the first boys for rehabilitation arrived. Together they started different livelihood projects to sustain themselves like dairy farming, a bakery, meat processing, planting of rice and vegetables among others. Today more than 100 boys and 15 girls have already completed the one year rehabilitation program.
Ambassadors of hope
Pope Benedict underlined in his visit to the Mother Community in Brazil in 2007 by calling the graduates of Fazenda as the “ambassadors of hope”. To stop using drugs is a small achievement, what is greater is their discovery of a totally new way of life based on love and unity that they can bring to their homes and workplaces after leaving the farm. Through their testimony they encourage others to make the same experience on the farm as they did. They are “living cells” that can generate new life in different places.
In the light of the current situation on the war on drugs, the four founders felt a strong calling to do something to help. They called on Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle to spread the word to the Filipino people that “there is hope”. On January 8, 2017, Cardinal Tagle will celebrate a DAY OF HOPE with a mass at 10:00 am at Manila Cathedral. After the mass, there will be sharing of experiences of graduates of Fazenda da Esperanca who are now living good and respectable lives. It is a way of saying that life is precious, God given and should not be taken for granted.
The invitation is being extended to all people interested in the testimonies to listen and be moved by people who have hit rock bottom but have been revived by the saving power of God. Let us affirm that “Life is precious. Let us all stand up for it”.
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