On the morning of February 10, 2017, Brother Pedro Arrambide died in Donostia-San Sebastian at the age of 75.
Brother Pedro was a member of the first team of PROYDE and was Director of that NGO from 1988 to 1998. He opened up new ways for cooperation with poor villages, and he prepared and published new resources for raising awareness such as leaflets, books and videos. He was an expert photographer and film maker. His energy was unstoppable.
He was born in Hondarribia (Gipuzkoa) in view of the open sea. He joined the De La Salle Institute when still young, and his vision stretched beyond his homeland to the world of the impoverished and the most needy.
One characteristic of Brother Pedro’s service to the poor was his ability to get others to become involved in it, whether by their personal presence or through financial contributions. He was never satisfied with just his own individual involvement.
He spent seven years in Rome in charge of SECOLI. In 1988, when he was working in the CONFER Department for Missions, he drew up a plan for the creation of PROYDE and presented it to his superiors. He succeeded in launching the project, with two other Brothers as his initial collaborators, both of them teachers like himself with missionary experience and a belief in the project.
At various times in his life, Pedro also involved himself personally in the world of the poor and the missions, especially in the Horn of Africa. As a young Brother, he was in Keren (Eritrea) and after that in Asmara and Hagaz (Eritrea) for eleven years.
In 2006, while he was in Eritrea, the Basque government awarded him the Cooperante Vasco prize, an award created to recognise the activity of individuals from Euskal Herria who had distinguished themselves by their work for solidarity in third world countries.
In 2009, he left Eritrea with great regret, because of the government’s policy towards foreign missionaries, and so he was called to Rome to lead the Office for Solidarity.
Problems of health obliged him to return to his native land in 2013. On October15, 2014, the municipality of his home town of Hondarribia paid heartfelt homage to Brother Pedro Arrambide “in recognition of his volunteer work and long term dedication to helping others in various parts of the world”.
Among his writings, Pedro left us the following testimony. “For me, life finds its meaning in faith in Jesus Christ. The great reward is the fact that you find your identity and happiness in the service of others.” And he used to add, “Life is like a coconut. If it is not opened up, it goes bad”.
Br. José Manuel Agirrezabalaga
PROYDE – PROEGA