The common effort to overcome poverty

by Stefano Vecchia, Avvenire

Viory Janeo (Philippines) is among the leaders of the Kalinangan Youth Foundation to train young leaders of the common good.

“I first heard about it from a colleague at the university where I teach. Intrigued, I visited the Economy of Francis (EoF) website and found the workshop topics interesting. Although the talks were scheduled for 11pm in the Philippines, I decided to attend because of the opportunity they offered to learn from experts in my own field of study and also to expand my network of contacts and meet peers with the same orientations as me and deep respect for economic disciplines. At one point in the program, EoF offered to present projects and studies. I decided to try that too, at a time that was right for me since I’m working on my Ph.D.”

Viory Janeo talks about her encounter with The Economy of Francesco, she’s a young professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific based in Manila and one of the heads of the Kalinangan Youth Foundation, an organization committed to training young people who aspire to a leadership role. Since last July, she has also been part of the Academy of Economy of Francesco.

Her involvement in EoF was immediate and committed. In one of the first meetings she attended she asked to be part of the group charged with discussing the theme “Poverty and Misery,” drawing inspiration from it to outline a sustainable capacity-building project that could help address poverty in the Philippines through financial education and values training. “My hope,” she recalls, “has always been that the beneficiaries could be empowered, properly motivated, to aim for improvement, sharing the knowledge they gained with others and -in doing so- activating in each of us the spirit of Bayanihan (‘cooperation’ or ‘joint effort’ in our language).”

“Participating in EoF has positively influenced my perspective of the world. Being part of a global community allows me to learn from the experiences of others operating in different settings and situations. This opens my eyes to the truth that the challenges we face in our country are not our own ones only. Even more developed countries face the same institutional obstacles that keep us from reaching our full potential as a society. Beyond that, I am inspired by the participants’ determination to help those who are often overlooked and disenfranchised.”

Viory Janeo’s identification of the relationship between economic science and faith is interesting, and if it stems from her studies and experience in teaching and social engagement, italso finds confirmation in the Economy of Francis initiatives. “My interest in mathematics and science, a result of my high school studies, also influenced my decision to enroll in the Industrial Economics course at the university where I currently work. Here I developed both technical and humanistic skills that eventually helped me understand the power of Economics as a discipline and the dimensions of how the concepts I had studied influence economic policies and impact in the real world and humanity”

Social sciences, she fully understands, have their roots in a higher cause that addresses them toward the common good. Can be the faith, one of this reason? “That’s what I think – she specifies -, because if some schools of thought see science and religion as distant if not antagonistic, personally I have come to the conviction that they are actually compatible. I am convinced that every human endeavor must be guided by something that originates in natural law and this is where science and religion intersect each other. While economics seems to only care about indifferent numbers, the fact that it is a social science indicates that these numbers ultimately impact society. So, all is human connected should be raised to a higher level defined within the realm of religion or faith, and the guiding principles of religion are what make any scientific research more humane.