Luis Berger was born in Alsace where at the age of 12 he was sent to a catholic boarding school near Paris. His teachers not only gave him a profound education, but also woke his interest in the catholic faith: he studied theology and philosophy and later became a priest.
His first assignment, in 1964, was in north of Lima in Peru. The young priest was confronted with a depressing situation: desert, poverty, hopelessness. He was sent to accompany the founding of a new town. Santa Rosa de Puente Piedra was planned for 300 families, for the poorest of the poor who had no home, no work, no future. But Luis Berger managed to enthuse the people by bringing in lots of energy and ideas along with excellent connections to various organizations within the church. Miserior from Germany donated a water pump, church groups from Canada and France sent money, the townfolk gave their manpower. And thus the village was built from scratch. Luis Berger’s concern was to provide people with a decent home, a place to live in peace and security.What was missing was a school. The young priest knew that the Jesuits were running a school project in Peru: Fe y Alegria. He persuaded the Jesuits to open another school in Santa Rosa although the small village did not have enough pupils. The parents themselves had to build the schoolhouse to prove their determination. Among the helpers was a young nurse from Mallorca, Isabel – Luis’ wife to-be. In 1969 school started with 6 classrooms for 300 pupils and their public teachers. Fé y Alegra No. 12 began its first term.
As Luis Berger’s mission was accomplished he and Isabel returned to Mallorca where they settled in the southwest. A matter that has always been near to his heart is the welfare and education of children. So together with his wife he founded the Colegio Infantil Bendinat which was first conceived as a preschool of the American School, today King Richard III College, then became independent, international, and finally German. The leitmotif never changed, though, namely preparing children for life through love and affection, and a personal example. More than 600 children of over 20 different nationalities visited the Colegio in 25 years. Until this day some alumni keep in touch with their kindergarten father. But all the time Luis Berger has maintained his contact and support for the children of Fe y Alegria No.12.
Today more than 1,000 children visit the school which provides education from preschool to vocational off-thejob training and also provides the only hot meal the kids get per day.
Peru is a country suffering from massive unemployment and in a forgotten village like Santa Rosa de Puente Piedra a proper job is the only chance to escape the vicious circle of poverty and unemployment. Fe y Alegria No.12 also offers courses in reading, writing, and maths for adults as well as social care and advice for family problems.
From Portals Nous Luis Berger still provides the school with advice and practical support and most important: he raises money – money that is urgently wanted for the most basic need: food. Three children can be fed with only one euro a day. And many children have been fed with Luis Berger’s help. Getting support from friends and business people in Portals Nous he can be seen at each village fair, charity event, and church activity. King Richard III College has become a partner school of Fe y Alegría No. 12. Fundraising at the Christmas bazaar brought 4,162 euros for the children of Peru. A street planned in Santa Rosa will be named after him: Camino de Luis Berger. The community of Calvia is funding the construction project with 33,800 USD.
At the age of 70 Luis Berger is still an impressive man. His blue eyes shine when he is talking about “his” children. He still has plans for the future – the children at Fe y Alegría are lucky to have a mentor like Luis Berger.
If you wish to support Luis Berger you can do so by paying into his charity account:
La Caixa, Portal-Nous
With 1 euro you can feed 3 children per day!