Members of the Consortium

Arigatou International

Arigatou International is “All for Children” and works with people from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds to build a better world for children. Believing that every girl and boy is a precious treasure of humanity, Arigatou International draws on universal principles of common good found in religious and spiritual traditions and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Arigatou employs interfaith and intercultural approaches to promote children’s rights and well-being, seeking to bring about positive change at all levels—from the grassroots to the global.

Arigatou values children for who they are and fully involves them in its work, ensuring their safe and meaningful participation while affirming their human dignity. Arigatou International collaborates with religious leaders and faith communities, international agencies, civil society organizations, governments—and most importantly, children and young people themselves—in more than 80 countries around the world.

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe
Arigatou International – Geneva
Executive Director

“The spiritual development of children in the early years is not only an under invested and under prioritized area in childhood development but also an often not understood and conceptualized area of human development. The work of the Consortium is a unique and critical contribution to develop a better understanding of what the spiritual development of children is and how we can work together with religious and spiritual communities as well as civil society and international organizations to integrate it in child protection, early childhood and parenting programs.”

Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe

Maria Lucia heads the strategic direction of the Ethics Education for Children initiative, and is in charge of Arigatou International’s engagement in child rights initiatives with UN agencies and mechanisms, and child rights-focused NGOs in Geneva.

Maria Lucia convenes the Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence, and the Working Group on Children and Violence of Child Rights Connect. She is currently a member of the Executive Committee of Child Rights Connect.

Maria Lucia believes in the power that children and young people have to transform their societies and the critical role that education can play in their empowerment and in creating more inclusive and peaceful societies. She holds a Master’s in Peace and Conflict Transformation, a specialization in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Finance. Maria Lucia is from Colombia and lives in France. She speaks Spanish, English and French.

Ms. Vera Leal
Arigatou International – Geneva
Head of Programs

“Children’s spiritual development is essential for their holistic well-being. Nurturing children’s spiritual development is often a missed element in early childhood programs, a gap filled by the unique contribution of this Toolkit.”

Ms. Vera Leal

Vera Leal oversees the Programs Department of Arigatou International – Geneva. She has over fifteen years of international experience and expertise in education and child participation. Before working at Arigatou International, Vera was Secretary-General of the International Catholic Movement for Children and worked with various organizations in training in citizenship education and positive parenting.

Vera is moved by the passion to create better, safer and empowering experiences and spaces for and with children. She holds a degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resources with a Specialization in Training Management. She is from Portugal and speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish.

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