MPI at the Rimini Meeting 2021!

The Courage to Say “I”

20·25 august 2021 | 42nd edition | Fiera di Rimini

The title of the meeting is “The courage to say ‘I’.” It is a quote from the “Diary” by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. In these difficult and troubled times, where there is an ongoing debate on the scientific, economic, social certainty and seemingly acquired lifestyles, we believe it is crucial to focus attention on the freedom of man and on his vocation to build a more humane world.

Many are experiencing the current situation as asphyxiating and suffocating: a growing sense of loss is affecting the entire world. The consistence of reality seems to struggle in a new wave of social decline, of economic and political uncertainty, which the pandemic has boosted: the way you relate with people, with the various activities and daily circumstances, is increasingly weakened. Apathy and boredom alternate with fear and anger and the zest for life seems destined to succumb.

The risks of a cultural and social homology relativizing the uniqueness of a person in the face of the challenges of life are visible to everyone.

But what specifically is this “I”? Is it an illusion? Is it a bundle of “different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity and are in a perpetual flux and movement” as the philosopher David Hume wrote? Or–as the Latin etymology of the word “persona” seems to suggest–a theatrical mask? Or is it an obstacle for whoever can perceive in it a factor of disturbance and destruction of the natural order of the world?

We have the sharing experience of relationship (foundational, generative, affective, with the other) as what allows the “I” to recognize itself, to be aware it exists and to search for a meaning for itself and for the world. And where does this “I” find the courage to move and to act, to expose itself, to prevent it from undergoing the circumstances of life and of this time of ours? And what kind of courage are we talking about?

And what is the relationship between the “I” and ourselves, between an individual and one’s community, between the person and society? Can the desire to live fully and to deepen our own relations still make the “I” of each one of us vibrate?

The ongoing appeals to follow new and more restrictive public health regulations are not enough to overcome anxiety and the lack of hope for the future. In order to face the pandemic and the many other challenges that life sets before us, society needs to wake up from the slumber and fear in which it has fallen back again months afterwards: the contribution of every individual, of every “I” that will be responsible, taking care of what is good for oneself and for the community as a whole.

In fact, we have discovered ourselves fragile, vulnerable, we have come to realize we need each other. This is why we believe we can start again only together, understanding the value and the significance (also of interdependence) of human relationships; this is why dialogue is the essential condition for any possible rebuilding.

At the meantime comes the need for something that continuously awakes that “I” we all have inside: It is the permanent dimension of education that we all need, to understand what is happening and to start living humanely. In fact, a crisis like the one we are going through is forcing our “I” to go back to the essential questions; if we want to start again, they mustn’t be censured.

This is why we wish to encounter the witness of people who, by not censuring their own “I”, don’t stop asking questions and who can communicate their experience and the way in which they face reality in the various areas where human life unfolds, in politics, scientific research, economics, education, art, healthcare, anywhere.

The Meeting offers itself to the world as a moment of encounter and confrontation for everybody, in an effort to better understand one’s self and the present situation, sharing that hope inside one’s heart, inside one’s eyes and inside one’s life, a life that is made more humane by the men and women involved, the people who have the courage to say “I”. Rimini Meeting 2021 poster 42nd edition.


My name is Mr. Wandera Joseph, 38 years old, a teacher at Luigi Giussani High School (LGHS) and I teach Christian Religious Education (CRE) and History. Am also in charge of training the choir. I joined LGHS in 2013 and became the deputy headteacher officially in 2015.

When the lockdown was imposed for twenty-one days, we thought that after those days, things would go back to normal but it didn’t happen that way. The lockdown was indefinite and we didn’t know when schools would open, we had no hope at all. Most of us teachers were at home and didn’t really have anything to do in line with our jobs. I was at home with my children, I would do a number of activities with them but I felt that something was missing. I was missing my colleagues and also the work. When the HTC (Head Teacher’s Council) was suggested and it first convened through google meet, I was very happy, it brought back life and hope. First of all, this meeting was for us (adults) because ‘you can’t give what you don’t have’ and later for the students who join us all together. It was from these meetings that we decided to give work or self-study materials to the students and also visit them at their homes. Since the lockdown had affected us, we also imagined how our students were doing. We had to keep in mind our relationship with them. We decided to engage the teachers first, to begin with preparing work for the students. It would be dangerous for us to leave them ‘alone’ at home. The students received the work but later got tired of it. Their daily lives were not involving academics; they were facing a number of issues as human beings. We were interested in their humanity than anything else. If a human being is ok, then they are able to face anything. The human being requires another. Before the lockdown, we had a relationship with our students where they would reveal to us the challenges they were facing in life. Since the lockdown was put in place, we didn’t know how they were doing and if they had anyone to talk to. It was then that we decided that the work was not enough, we then went to their homes. They were asking us when they were going back to school, we didn’t have an answer for them, but we told them that the fact that we were at their homes and providing them work as well, we were thinking of them.

One of the places we went to was the welcoming house where we have a lot of our students. We had a session of dancing and singing with them. They easily express themselves in this way, it was a nice moment that we realized they liked as well. Seve (Educational Advisor at LGHS) continued to journey with them through different activities. He later gave me a letter that the children wrote inviting me to sing with them. We arranged and I started to go there for a number of reasons i.e. I like music, all the children were in the same place so it was easy to organize, their parent was willing to accept me into the home, most of the things I learned in music was free and most importantly, I was moved with how the children were expressing themselves, I wanted to do something for them given my knowledge in music. Being there was also for my own good because I was always happy, it was an opportunity for me to keep on discovering myself. I have an opportunity to interact with children at school and my home. A relationship with a child helps me to be appreciative to God because I was once their age and He has taken care of me through all these stages. He is looking over me and He takes me as a precious person. If you are by yourself, it’s hard for you to discover some things but in a relationship with another, you discover a lot. We had the Christmas carols with the children at the welcoming house, they were of different ages but for me, it was the humanity before me. It was an opportunity to live the moments of the nativity through the songs. After the carols, we were all happy and I kept on checking on them through phone calls. Some days I would go there and we would do a number of activities like playing, singing and I was even teaching some of them how to play the keyboard.

COVID-19 had its negative effects like confusion in the education system but for me, it was an opportunity to stop and think, to ask myself what life is, and to reflect. To discover the important things in life and not take them for granted. For me, one of the ways I discovered this was through the children.

Compiled by Adoch Mary Clare



Akongo Margret, a 47-year-old mother lives with her family of 10 members in Naguru, a slum in Kampala. She stays with her husband, 3 biological children, and other children she is currently looking after while others are no longer under her care because their lives became better with Margret’s support. Margret grew up as a paternal orphan. Her mother did not attain any education and when she lost her husband, she decided to move to Kampala with her children because there was insecurity in the northern part of Uganda where they originally come from. Living with a single mother who did not have a formal job was not easy. People around used to consider them to be the most vulnerable family which led to their discrimination and stigmatization. Margret’s mother used to collect firewood from people’s fences in a place called Kololo and sell them to earn income while she picked wild green vegetables that she used to feed her family. Some well-wishers would give them food once in a while. When Margret got married, she used to spend most of her time alone because she felt that she cannot fit anywhere in society because of how vulnerable she was and also because of how her family was treated while growing up. She had no confidence to speak freely and rejected invitations to gatherings because she felt unworthy to be among people. Her elder sister who had been a member of Meeting Point International (MPI) died due to complications from HIV/AIDS and that is when Margret got courage to join the MPI family whose invites she had been ignoring for long because of her fears of rejection. She managed to meet with the MPI director Rose Busingye who educated her about the value and dignity of a person which is greater than sickness, poverty, riches, one’s level of education, and many other worldly things. “I was embraced by this community in a way that I felt desired yet they did not know me. I had not experienced this kind of love and so this was the beginning of my self-discovery into my value which opened up my heart and mind to the world” Margret contemplated. She used to reduce herself by the circumstances she was facing but after getting this education, she discovered that the human value and life are very precious. This guided her into looking at everyone as having the same value as herself and she started to associate more freely and embrace people in her everyday life. “Before this education from MPI, I never knew that I could make a great change in another person’s life even with the little I have. I always feel so much pain in my heart whenever I see another suffering and I wish to take their pain away.”– Margret. Discovering her value more every day widens her knowledge because she looks at everything with a gaze that is why she is giving a helping hand to the people in her community. “The way our sponsors care for us without knowing us makes me pose a question in her mind, “Who Am I?” – Margret.

She gave a recent scenario from where she is operating her small business of selling fruits with one MPI member called Beatrice. Beatrice kept running short of capital and Margret encouraged that they combine funds and buy a large box of mangoes, sell them and share the profit which they did. They started this journey in November 2020 and their business is operating well in that they are able to buy food for their children, save with the MPI savings groups, and keep little for an emergency without encroaching into their capital. Other friends who sell close to them borrowed the idea but it was not working and one of them asked Margret why theirs was a success. “They borrowed this idea from me without first knowing who they are and why they are doing it so I encouraged them to look closely at everything not for personal benefit but for the need to journey together” – Margret. In her community people are united in that when anyone is sick, you find members of MPI visiting while others manage your business till you are fit to resume.

“Margret picked me up when I felt that I was between a rock and a hard wall with no relative or family to help me and nowhere to sleep after being thrown out by the landlord. My family had rejected me and my children but Margret gave me the remaining small land beside her house and now I have a place to sleep. I am also selling mangoes to help look after my family. The MPI family is always holding my hand which gives me strength. I am now aware of my value and one of others since I have been shown a better way of living” said Akwiri Alice

In the photo above is Akongo Margret (left) and Akwiri Alice (right) standing in front of the small structure they set up for Alice. Besides it on the extreme right is Margret’s house.

Margret insists that the best way to live is by holding the other person’s hand and move together without leaving anyone behind because she believes that whoever she encounters is sent to her by God. Margret ended by saying how blessed she is to have met the MPI family because before their intervention into her life, she was always sad and worried. She thought that her children would not study beyond Primary Seven since she is not educated and was struggling to look after the family single-handedly. However, one child completed university and two are in secondary school all because she was embraced and her only wish is for all to live in this way.

In the photo above is Akongo Margret in the middle and two social workers from Meeting Point International

Written by MPI social worker

Achan Aida Agnes