Vicente Ferrer Moncho

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Vicente Ferrer Moncho
Born (1920-04-09)9 April 1920
Barcelona, Spain
Died 19 June 2009(2009-06-19) (aged 89)
Anantapur, India
Nationality Spanish
Occupation Jesuit missionary, humanitarian
Religion Catholic, Jesuit
Awards Prince of Asturias Award for Concord (1998)

Vicente Ferrer Moncho (9 April 1920 – 19 June 2009)[1] was a philanthropist who spent his life working to improve the lives of the poor in the mission he founded in Southern India. Today the Vicente Ferrer Foundation carries out humanitarian projects in Andhra Pradesh, bringing aid to over 2.5 million poor people.[2] many of whom are considered Dalit or untouchable.

Biography[edit]

Childhood and Youth[edit]

Vicente Ferrer was born in Barcelona, Spain on 9 April 1920. In his youth he was for a while affiliated with the POUM (Workers' Party of the Marxist Unification) and at 16 he was called up by the military to serve in the Spanish Civil War. He participated in the Battle of the Ebro (1938) and the retreat of the Republican army to France after the fall of the Catalan front. He was briefly interned in the Argelès-sur-Mer concentration camp. As he had not committed any crimes in the conflict, he opted to return to Spain, and was handed over by the French authorities to Franco's Spanish authorities in Hendaya, by whom he was confined in a concentration camp located near Betanzos, Galicia in 1939.

He was finally released from the camp, however, he had to undertake a further two years military service. On his discharge he finished seven years in the military including the war years, his incarceration and second spell of military service. In 1944 he abandoned his law studies and became a Jesuit.[3][4]

Missionary position[edit]

He arrived in India in 1952 as a Jesuit missionary. In 1958, after deciding to increase his focus on helping the poor, he and a group of followers created the "Rural Development Association" in Manmad (North of Mumbai). This organisation started with twelve acres of land and a school. Although, due to the crisis in rural areas, many peasants wanted to emigrate, Vicente Ferrer encouraged local peasants to dig wells and told them "I will pay you with wheat and oil." He supplied them with water pumps on credit and with no interest charges or guarantees. The organisation has been involved in the construction of 3,000 wells.

After the publication of the article "The Silent Revolution" in 1968 in the The Illustrated Weekly of India, one of the most read Indian magazines at the time, he was expelled by the Indian authorities who viewed his work as a threat to their interests. A year later, with the blessings of Indira Gandhi, he was granted permission to return so that he could continue his work in the poverty-stricken city of Anantapur. He left the Jesuits in 1970 but continued his humanitarian work along with his English wife the former journalist Anne Perry.

After his return, he started another project in Anantapur; he again set up irrigation systems, this time in a desert area that was completely barren. The cooperative work method that he instituted there goes by the name of "linked brotherhood": help is given to each peasant in digging his own well, with material and food for the length of the work; when this is finished the peasant helps others in the same way.

Vicente Ferrer Foundation for children[edit]

Ferrer started the Vicente Ferrer Foundation in 1969 in Andhra Pradesh. The foundation, which mainly works with the Dalit caste, organised wells and irrigation systems, has funded three hospitals, an AIDS clinic, a family planning centre,[5] 14 rural clinics, 1,700 schools, some 30,000 houses and the planting of over 3 million trees. The work of the foundation has improved the lives of more than 2.5 million people.[6]

In 1998 he was awarded Spain's Prince of Asturias Award for Concord.[7]

Ferrer was admitted to the emergency ward of Anantapur hospital on 20 March 2009 after suffering a cerebrovascular accident (a stroke).[8] He died on 19 June 2009 at the age of 89 from cardio-respiratory failure.[9]

Tributes[edit]

On 14 May 2009 the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and the Ministry for Education announced the creation of the National Awards for Development Education Vicente Ferrer.[10] Which rewards publicly funded schools for developing activities, educational experiences, educational projects or proposals to sensitise, educate, develop critical thinking and encourage active participation of students in the pursuit of global citizenship, compassion, commitment to the eradication of poverty and its causes and sustainable human development.[11]

In July 2009 Spanair announced that it would name one of its Airbus 320s after the missionary, following an agreement signed with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.[12]

On 1 February 2010 an independent group nominated the Vicent Ferrer Foundation for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.[13][14]

Awards received[edit]

  • Prince of Asturias Award for Concord in 1998.[15]
  • Español Universal, in 1998.
  • Ceuta Autonomous City Coexistence Award in 2000.
  • Member of the Commission for the Eradication of Poverty of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, in 2000.
  • Generalitat of Catalonia St George's Cross in 2000.
  • General Council of the Bar Human Rights Award in 2000.
  • UNESCO Leading Figure in the History of the 20th century in 2001.
  • Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Social Solidarity from the Spanish Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in 2002.
  • Spanish Olympic Committee Olympic Spirit Award in 2002.
  • Honarary Degree, from the Polytechnic University of Valencia in 2000 and from the University of Huelva in 2001.
  • The Rural Development Trust has also received different distinctions including:
    • Best Ecological Project awarded by the Dutch Government in 1994.
    • Labour Gold Medal awarded by the State of Andhra Pradesh in 2000.
    • Recognition by the European Commission as the best NGO participating in the rescue and reconstruction work after the earthquake in Gujarat in 2001.
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit awarded by the Spanish Government in 2009[16]
  • Catalan of the Year Award 2008 awarded by the newspaper El Periódico de Catalunya.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vicente Ferrer fallece en la India
  2. ^ www.tributes.com" consulted 29 January 2012
  3. ^ timesonline.co.uk
  4. ^ Un recluso en Betanzos, llamado Vicente Ferrer
  5. ^ Michael Eaude (23 July 2009). "Vicente Ferrer". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Briefly: Vicente Ferrer". The Independent. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "Vicente Ferrer a life of action". Prince of Asturias Foundation. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  8. ^ "Vicente Ferrer, en estado crítico en un hospital indio por una embolia". elmundo.es. 21 March 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2009. 
  9. ^ Daniel Woolls, Associated Press (June 2009). "Vicente Ferrer: Spanish humanist who worked with India's poor dies". www.tributes.com. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "III. OTRAS DISPOSICIONES MINISTERIO DE ASUNTOS EXTERIORES Y DE COOPERACIÓN". BOLETÍN OFICIAL DEL ESTADO. 22 May 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Education for Development". Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID). Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  12. ^ Agencia EFE (24 July 2009). "Un Airbus de Spanair llevará el nombre de Vicente Ferrer". La Vanguardia. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  13. ^ Costa Tropical "Vicente Ferrer, una fundación digna de un Nobel" Consulted 6 February 2010
  14. ^ "Nobel Peace Prize for RDT founder?". The Hindu. 3 August 2010. " consulted 29 January 2012
  15. ^ Premio Príncipe de Asturias de la Concordia 1998
  16. ^ Vicente Ferrer recibe la gran cruz de la Orden del Mérito Civil del Gobierno español
  17. ^ "Vicente Ferrer gana el premio Català de l'Any". El Periódico de Catalunya. 1 April 2009. Retrieved 2 April 2009.