Fundación Emmanuel currently hosts more than 100 children in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was created by the Argentinian couple Luis Maria and María Elvira Nicora. Since the beginning, the project has been supported from Belgium.
But how did the Fundación's project see the light of day? What is the link between Argentina and Belgium? To try to reconstruct the puzzle, we have interviewed Anne Vandenbroucke, voluntary member of the Belgian team, who took part in the project from the very beginning.
Anne and the very beginnings of the Fundación
Anne meets the founding couple
In 1964, Anne is a medical student at the University of Leuven. She is also a member of the CPM ("Chers Petits Ménages", translated "Dear Little Households"), a group of recently married students who are meeting once a month.
At the same time, the couple Luis-Maria and María Elvira comes to Belgium to study at the University of Leuven and they quickly take part in the CPM meetings.
Anne and other members of the group become friends to Luis Maria and María Elvira. The Argentinian couple returns to their home country in 1967, but they keep in touch through greetings, postcards (yes internet did not exist then !).
First meetings in Belgium
Memories are hazy for Anne but she remembers that at the end of the 80s, Christiane de Raedt, former head of Shalom (a home for female university students in Leuven) and a great friend of María Elvira, gathered together Shalom members, CPM members, and members of the academic community.
Moral and financial support was launched in order to support María Elvira and Luis Maria's project and henceforth help the Argentinian children in difficulty.
Evolution of the project
The initial project on the sport in Argentina was to welcome children in difficulty, coming from families in precarious situations who cannot guarantee physical, emotional or psychological security to their children. In this way, the couple welcomed 7 children.
A few years later, concerned by the poverty of the children and families living in the slums of La Plata (Bueno-Aires), they created the Center "Tia Kiki" for the children and a training center for parents. The objective moved on and also involved to help families in the education of their children so that each child can blossom close to their parents and family. Fundación Emmanuel's project developped in order to be able to welcome more children.
Christiane de Raedt became the first president of Fundación Emmanuel. As christiane was nicknamed Kiki, the Centre "Tia Kiki" was named after her.
An ever growing team
The small supporting team swung into action in Belgium to raise funds. "At the beginning", said Anne "We enthusiastically organised second hand sales, bridge competitions, concerts and plays, ..."
Today, the multigenerational team is headed by David Raemdonck van Megrode and organises X-mas tree sales, participates in the fundraising 20km of Brussels and is planning other activities to raise money in order to continue the Belgian-Argentinian partnership started in the late sixties.
And Anne is still active in this wonderful friendship between Belgium and Argentina.