On the occasion of the screening of the documentary L’Ecole de la Vie, l’Ecole de la Métamorphose (School of Life: The School of Metamorphosis), we asked Sister Sophie de Jésus three questions. She is the Chair of the Acay Association, which helps young women and girls who are victims of violence and abuse, which AMADE has supported for several years now within the framework of its Dignity for Women programme.
1. Sister Sophie de Jésus, you created the School of Life in Manila twenty-five years ago. Can you explain what led you to create it and the initial assessment you made?
Creating the School of Life corresponds for me to a personal calling within my religious life. It took shape in the Philippines after John Paul II’s World Youth Day in 1995. Two years later, in October 1997, we founded the ACAY mission. Helping young people in distress to rebuild their lives was the initial project. However, experience led us to refine and hone this reconstruction work around the lives of beaten, abandoned, sexually, physical, or emotionally abused children and teenagers. Our specificity?
Working at the same time on “victimised” and “delinquent” youth, to try to understand the respective dynamics and approach the distress of these young people in a holistic way.
Transforming the lives and educational strategies of the School of Life into a broader field of learning, so that the girls will have tools for personal development and skills, leading teams and taking responsibilities.
Integrating the parents as much as possible so that they reinterpret life and enter into an empathetic relationship with themselves and their child.
Helping these girls not to be cut off from society and preparing them, so that they feel at home socially.
Preparing them for the codes of professional life and also financially, so that their autonomy can be considered with serenity.
Adding an entrepreneurial approach to the psycho-social interventions and coaching in empowerment.
Twenty-five years later, the School of Life has helped nearly three hundred girls, 86% of whom were ready for life in society. Today, the “ACAY” approach has been transformed into a method called “Metamorphosis”.
2. During this accompaniment of the young people, you developed your own expertise and methodology: could you explain what the Metamorphosis methodology consists of and the impact of this tool on young people?
Metamorphosis is a guidance method for young people in great difficulty (girls and boys) with two specific dimensions.
The first is a toolbox bringing together all of ACAY’s key training, whose impact has been crucial in the lives of young people over the years. Among these, “Lifeline” retraces the life of the young person, with its ups and downs; “Genogram” analyses the relational dynamics within the family spanning three generations; and there are many other courses, oriented towards preparing the young people for their reintegration within society and the professional world.
The second dimension of Metamorphosis is guidance and support software for the young person that measures the individual’s evolution, in service to a program based on clear and precise indicators and that places them in the position of being the main actors of their transformation. This tool consolidates twenty-five years of guidance for young people and facilitates the work of our multidisciplinary team, by measuring the programme’s impact on the young people.
The impact of Metamorphosis is considerable. The teams and the girls have a tool to help them, in addition to the usual services of youth monitoring and support. If the goals are clear for the young people, then they become equally so for the educational team.
3. Finally, AMADE has been accompanying and supporting you since 2016; what does this support provide for you?
As I shared recently, Archimedes once said: “Give me a fulcrum and I will lift up the world”… The AMADE plays this role as a “fulcrum” or “lever” and it is a reliable one, a “terra ferma”, for a multitude of NGOs, so that they can amplify their impact on young people and children across the globe.
AMADE believed in the approach that ACAY had devised over many years: a home for the School of Life programme for abused and abandoned young women and girls was funded in large part by AMADE. The programme is also supported by AMADE in its day-to-day operation, its methods and interventions. AMADE is now supporting us in the development and distribution work for the Metamorphosis method.
These years of partnership with AMADE have been an extraordinary opportunity for ACAY to develop itself and deploy its development potential.