01/21/2005, 00.00
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After the tsunami: sponsoring as a partnership between people and cultures

by Gerolamo Fazzini

Milan (AsiaNews) – "The Onlus agency will cooperate with Forum SAD as far possible to come up with a portrait of sponsoring in Italy," said Prof Lorenzo Ornaghi, president of the Onlus Agency, who spoke this morning at a meeting organised by Forum SAD at the Missionary centre of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Milan. The meeting brought together 64 of Italy's 131 groups operating in the field.

Mr Ornaghi said that sponsoring is something to be exported. It is a concrete way to help others that can work when it is done along side rather than in contraposition with public foreign aid.

Mr Ornaghi said he hopes that volunteer groups will undergo the necessary qualitative changes and acquire the cross-cultural and technical skills necessary to respond to society's increasingly high expectations.

Here are his remarks to AsiaNews.

Professor, the tsunami deeply touched Italians who responded generously to fundraising efforts on behalf of the affected communities in Asia. Sponsoring however goes beyond short-term generosity elicited by emotions . . .

Yes! Sponsoring has a cultural aspect to it. It means taking care of someone else not only in terms of his or her immediate needs, but also as a person that is growing.

Missionaries are masters at this. They do an extraordinary job wherever they are involved.

Emergency responses are short-term and cannot be put off. Sponsoring goes beyond that; it demands a commitment over time. What does it mean in actual terms?

It means forging lasting ties with others and not just being swept up by the moment.

If a donor thinks he or she can just meet someone's needs, they risk establishing a paternalistic relationship.

The challenge is to take care of someone who belongs to a community and is not just a passive recipient of charity that makes the donor feel good about him or herself.

The donor must feel he or she is a partner of the person who receives aid. The donor must view the relationship within a wider and more mature framework.

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