José Benito Bongarrá

When he discovered the difference Alfalit’s literacy programs were making in other countries, Benito Bongarrá and his wife Ana María Rosa Ciccone founded Alfalit Argentina in 1988. Ana, Benito notes proudly, and Eulalia Cook, one of Alfalit International’s original founders, facilitated the first Alfalit class in nearby Guatemala. Alfalit Argentina also provided the first-ever training in Paraguay (1994). Benito consistently demonstrates compassion for marginalized families and individuals in Argentina, and the Alfalit International team considers him a true asset.

Although today Argentina’s teaching requirements are significantly different from when Benito chose his career, he studied education-related topics in high school, and upon graduation, was considered a teacher. Shortly after, he entered the military, where he found fellow soldiers who were illiterate. He volunteered to teach them to read and write. Benito, with the blessing of his commanding officer, successfully provided literacy training to more than twenty men in about two years.

Before joining Alfalit, Benito studied Educational Sciences (University of Morón) and left to create a rural ministry. He was director of the Escuela Cristiana Evangélica Argentina [“Argentine Evangelical Christian School”] Elementary School and a teacher at Juan Amós Comenio High School. Under the auspices of the Fundación Educativa Comunidad Evangélica Argentina [“Argentine Evangelical Community Educational Foundation”]. When Argentina’s Ministry of Education signed an agreement with the Organization of American States, Benito learned to utilize technology in educational settings. The first director of El Centro Comunitario en Andacollo [“Community Center in Andacollo”], he established Centros Comunitarios Rurales Evangélicos [“Evangelical Rural Community Centers”]. These centers serve as schools and support points for residents to receive information and assistance to address health, hunger, family issues, and other life challenges. When the Centers were being built, he did whatever was necessary, like driving truckloads of supplies to sites, plumbing, cooking meals, and other manual labor jobs. Today, 10 of these centers are found throughout Argentina to serve all but lower-income individuals in particular.

Benito has a deep commitment to Alfalit’s mission and credits his father. When the senior Bongarrá visited Guatemala, he was introduced to evangelical schools and, inspired, returned to Argentina to bring the good news of God to students through the education process. Father of five and grandfather of eleven, Benito has volunteered as the pastor of The Transparent Church for over 45 years. He also serves as the President of the Evangelical Mission in Villa Real and of the Argentine Evangelical Community Educational Foundation, where he was once employed. He is fluent in Spanish and speaks a bit of Portuguese and English.