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FMSI opened a regional ofice in Bangkok

02/05/2013: Thailand

The inauguration took place in late March. Mario Meuti, Director of FMSI Rome, and Marco Blanco, the new Regional Coordinator for Asia, were present for the occasion at the new office in Bangkok. The project started in May 2012. FMSI wants to extend and qualify its services at the local level through regional and national offices in collaboration with the Marist Brothers.

The first to keenly welcome the idea were the Marist superiors of Asia. They spoke about it in their first meeting as Marist Asia Conference (MAC), and saw its potential benefits in terms of fundraising for the Marist missions in Asia, which FMSI has supported for years but with obvious operational limits. So they sent an official request to begin the necessary process in that direction.

After several studies on both sides on how to materialize the project, FMSI sent a proposal to the MAC describing the possible goals and roles of the regional office, which focused on local fundraising strategies to support the projects, and on the promotion of the rights of minors, the two areas in which the FMSI carries out its activities. The MAC agreed to the proposal, and suggested a number of possible candidates for the role of office manager. The choice – thanks to the new Secretariat for International Collaboration for Mission of the Marist Institute (CMI) – fell unanimously on Marco Blanco, a young Australian lawyer of Spanish descent, and former Marist student from Saint Joseph College in Sydney, whose background includes studies on human rights and UN procedures. By then he was living in Rome, where he worked as an English teacher. His commitment to the project was immediate: he volunteered for a year, with the goal of making the project self-sustainable and turning the initial experience into a real job.

After a few weeks of training at the FMSI offices in Rome and Geneva, which are necessary to become acquainted with its operating philosophy, Marco landed in Bangkok on March 21, and was welcomed by the director of FMSI Rome, brother Mario Meuti, who was there for the occasion. The office is housed in the large building of the Saint Gabriel Foundation and – by happy coincidence – it is also shared with FI (Franciscans International), exactly as in Geneva. Marco’s office mate is Sanjay V. Gathia from India, FI Advocacy Officer for Asia and the Pacific, who is very glad to share his experience and to help FMSI become acquainted with the world of fundraising and of the defense of children’s rights in Asia.

The office began to function on Monday the 25th of March. In these early days they are trying to get to know the place and determine how many of the things they thought about in advance are actually suitable to be put into practice... The MAC meeting of April 5 and 6, in which the director of FMSI Rome was also present, was an important contribution for a joint work plan, bringing clarity to the project and the perspective of a real service to the Marist mission.

The immediate goal for the regional FMSI office in Asia is to address an important need to train people in the Marist works by means of two courses: Fundraising and Project Management, from July 21 to 26; and Child Protection and Advocacy, from July 29 to August 1st(directed by the FMSI Geneva team). Both proposals pleased the MAC, who will soon send in the names of the participants, taking care to choose representatives from all the countries of Asia where the Marists are present.


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