Fundació Vicente Ferrer
Vicente Ferrer landed in Mumbai, India, in 1952 for the first time. Upon his arrival, he immediately felt connected to the plight of the rural farmers. In 1956, he was ordained as a priest and spent the next twelve years dedicating himself to supporting the farmers, building wells and building community grassroots teams. His untraditional methods made him suspicious to the authorities, and he was ordered to leave India. He returned to (his homeland in) Spain in 1968 hoping for a change in the rulling of the authority.
On April 29, 1968, after having marched over 150 miles from Manmad to Mumbai, more than 30,000 rural people demanded that the government to allow Father Ferrer to return to India. In July of the same year, the then-Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, took a stand to support the farmers and Father Ferrer’s work in India.
In 1969, Father Ferrer returned to India with the government’s permission and established the Rural Development Trust in Anantapur in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh. In 1970, he left the priesthood and married Anne surname, who worked as a journalist covering the protests in support of her future husband.
The couple faced huge challenges in those early days. Located in one of the driest regions in India, Andhra Pradesh barely supported its inhabitants. The rural farmers struggled to make ends meet and many of them went to bed hungry every day.They also endured extreme discrimination in a society deeply divided along caste, tribal, and gender lines.
The main concern of the Rural Development Trust was helping the district’s poorest families finding work for them and granting them access to food. The founders paid special attention to the most marginalised communities, including the so-called “untouchables” – people with disabilities, women and girls. Their focus on the severely underprivileged continues to this day.
Inspired by Father Ferrer’s work, trifermed wanted to contribute to this social struggle in their own humble way. By supporting FVF we believe we are contributing to social equality in rural India.
Since its inception, FVF has embraced a whole-village approach emphasising self-sufficiency. Identifying and removing barriers to progress by empowering the local people to build up their own communities, break down centuries of ingrained discrimination, and take charge of their own lives lies at the core of our organisation’s mission. We consider the people of India to be the main players in the process of their own improvement — India for India. As Father Ferrer observed pithily: “Action is a flame that never goes out.” The story of FVF is the story of action over words.
To achieve our mission of eradicating extreme poverty and suffering, FVF dedicates itself to holistic development. We believe in being accountable for every dollar raised and spent. This means we aim to create highly effective, sustainable programmes that not only tackle the symptoms of poverty such poor nutrition and disease, but also improve its underlying factors, including education, women’s empowerment, the environment, cultural development, community health and recreation.
We are changing lives by addressing the interconnected web of issues affecting every impoverished family: hunger, discrimination, housing problems, access to healthcare, education and sustainable farming. Through our efforts, we are breaking the cycle of extreme poverty.
We are not asking for charity.
We are not asking for recognition.
We are not asking for applause.
We are seeking real solutions, transformation and the empowerment of people.
Today, because one man dared to imagine the impossible, nearly 2,400 people (99% of whom are locals) contribute to the organisation’s work covering 3,200 villages and affecting almost 3 million people.
Father Ferrer put it best: “FVF does not end with Vicente Ferrer; it just started with him.”
For more information, visit fundacionvicenteferrer.org