Category Archives: Brazil

Praying for the community of Mauá

 Nete with children in Maua

Nete Araujo, Mauá’s community leader (centre), with children, holding petitions signed by parishioners from England and Wales, campaigning against an earlier eviction threat.


Urgent news from the Connect2 community of Mauá in São Paulo, Brazil.

At Christmas, we heard that the São Paulo city government had passed a decree to buy the building and turn it into social housing. This was a moment for celebration. But suddenly, the situation has taken a turn for the worse and now is a make-or-break time for the 237 homeless families who have fought for seven years to make Mauá their permanent home.

Tuesday 15 April is the key date. We ask you to pray for the families as their long struggle reaches its final conclusion.

The story is this:

The city government has pledged to buy the building and turn it into permanent housing for the families. But a local judge has re-issued an eviction order, this time based on a health and safety report by the fire brigade who considered the building unsafe. The date for the eviction is 15 April. Potentially, all 237 families – including the elderly, sick and children – could be forced out on to the streets. The city government needs to push through the compulsory purchase before 15 April in order to halt the eviction. The community are working hard with the city government to achieve this. Here is a message to us from Nete, Mauá’s coordinator and from Osmar, an ally within the city government.

Nete says:

“We are working to remedy the problems identified by the Fire Brigade – buying fire extinguishers, re-wiring and making other repairs. The City Council has yet to make the expropriation payment. They proposed doing this on the 15 April, the day that is marked for eviction. But as a community, we protested and now they have said they will do it in two weeks. We hope to celebrate soon!

Osmar says:

“We are working hard and campaigning to ensure that the city government fulfils its promise of expropriating and purchasing the Mauá building by the next weeks. This will suspend the 15 April eviction order and finally guarantee that the building will be refurbished and converted into social housing. This moment is a unique opportunity.

God willing, Mauá will be converted into a beautiful place where low-income families can live permanently.  We believe this change is possible. We believe that with the ongoing work we are doing here, and your partnership and support via communities, we will ensure this victory and fulfil the dream of hundreds of families.

We would like to thank you for your support, which is helping to improve the lives of families and fulfil their dreams of having a decent home and roof over their heads. Together we are creating a better world for those who have struggled and are suffering.”

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A harvest of candyfloss at St George’s

St G facebook

E-editors at CAFOD’s Romero House

Hello, we are from St George Catholic College, Southampton and we took part in the ‘harvest of talents’ project. We had a good time and would love to do it again. Continue reading

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Filed under Brazil, CAFOD, CAFOD Portsmouth, Education, fundraising, greatgeneration, Local CAFOD event, UK, youth action, Youth resources

“Running in pursuit of life”: Laisa’s story

“I believe that each individual barrier that we overcome is a reason for being and feeling proud. I realised that I spent last year running for fear of death. But today I am running in pursuit of life. In 2012, I was afraid of death, I was afraid that at any moment I would be defeated by a hit man. On 31 December I was so relieved that I managed to stay alive. In 2013, I am running in search of life.”

Laisa has received death threats because she is proptesting about illegal logging.

Laisa has received death threats because she is proptesting about illegal logging.

Laísa Santos Sampaio is an environmental activist who lives in the state of Pará, one of the most violent states in Brazil. Her sister Maria and brother-in-law José Cláudio were killed in 2011 for campaigning against illegal logging in the Amazon.

Since then, only Laísa remains with her family, defending her land and taking on the cause of her sister and brother-in-law.  As a result, she has been facing extremely serious death threats in the aftermath of these murders, and has been living every day in fear of losing her life.

Women have been increasingly threatened and killed by loggers, ranchers and farmers for protecting the environment and fighting for land rights for rural workers in the state of Pará. And the number of women targeted is on the rise.

Dorothy Stang, an American environmental activist, was violently killed in 2005 in Pará, and in September 2013 the rancher who ordered her murder was finally condemned to 30 years imprisonment after a long legal process with high international profile. However the hitman who killed her only served three years of his 27 years’ prison sentence.

Let’s stop the violence and injustice. Speak out with us today>>

Where cases do not receive the same international coverage, women continue to live under death threat with little, delayed or no protection from the Brazilian state or recourse to justice. CAFOD’s partner, CPT (Pastoral Land Commission) is one of the few organisations that campaigns for the protection and justice for victims of violence related to land rights and environmental protection in Pará.

In May this year, the two hit men hired to kill Laísa’s  sister and brother-in-law were convicted with imprisonment,  but the person who allegedly ordered the murders was freed due to insufficient evidence. He and his family have returned to their plot of land, next to where Laísa and her family live.

She says: “You spend your life fighting for justice and when you expect justice to be done, this is what happened. If I could paint days, I would paint that one black as that was a day of real mourning for me. But I thought to myself: “You are not going to run from what is happening”. Even if there is danger, we need to believe that we are going to succeed in the end. But change, in the context of political justice, is very difficult indeed.”

CPT has been supporting Laísa’s case during the murder trial and campaigned for her inclusion in the Federal Programme for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. They’ve also been providing agricultural training to help Laísa continue the work of the Female Group of Artisanal Workers set up by Laísa’s sister, Maria. The group works to protect the forest and enables women living in the encampment to earn an income.

Please give to our vital work supporting people’s rights around the world>>

After Maria’s murder, the group of women disintegrated due to fear for their own lives and the psychological and financial impacts of their association with Maria and Laísa. But with CAFOD’s support the group has restarted, and is now extracting natural oils from native forest trees to produce and sell natural remedies. CPT are also undertaking a project in the region to help families access their land rights and to lobby for socially and environmentally just policies.

Laísa hopes that she has inspired others to stand up against injustice. “If I cannot be physically present in an event, debate or fighting for a cause, I can be in the minds of the people who met me and for whom I made a difference”.

Join us during these 16 days in solidarity with courageous women like Laísa as we give, act and pray for an end to violence against women>>

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Harvest of Talents fundraising – week 3

HoT week 3 The CAFOD team at Cardinal Allen, Fleetwood, have been set a special fundraising challenge – they are using their talents and investing £10 each into their own entrepreneurial ideas to raise money for CAFOD. The team tells us what they have been up to in week 3.

The students of Cardinal Allen School are embarking on their final week of the Harvest of Talents project. It’s a final race to the finish to raise as much money as they possibly can, so it’s all hands on deck to complete our projects.

3 of our Y10 girls have spent the whole week washing teachers’ cars for the exceptionally reasonable price of £2.50 per car. They have provided a very professional service, investing their £10 in all the right equipment- sponges, cloths, sprays and buckets, and the teachers have noticed and appreciated this. Their strict 2 cars per lunch time policy has served them well; as well as ensuring they have enough time to do a proper job on each car, the girls have kept a steady flow of business. Their books were full week last week, and they are also fully booked right up until hand- in day this Friday. Well done, girls!

Find out how other schools have been fundraising this Harvest Fast Day on our stories page >>>

Owen, one of our Y9 students, decided to go it alone and embark on his own project. He turned the school Chapel into a cinema over the lunch times of last week, and decided to show Toy Story 3 to a captive audience (the bad weather on Tuesday worked to his favour, and he cashed in on our wet lunch time!). Charging for entry, and running a tuck shop at the back of the Chapel for those essential movie snacks, Owen has managed to make nearly £20 profit, as well as recouping the £10 he spent on sweets. Well done, Owen!

It’s not too late to get involved and fundraise yourself this Harvest! Find our resources to help you >>>

We also have a “guess the sweets in the jar” competition hotting up, and are looking forward to a cake and chocolate sale to round the whole experience off. Here’s hoping we’ll all be celebrating on Friday lunch time when the groups come to hand in their takings and share their experiences of the project.

Who rose to the Harvest of Talents challenge? We only have a few days to wait and see!

Get the full story! Catch up on the team’s previous blogs: Week 1 Week 2

Look out for the Cardinal Allen CAFOD team ‘s final post, including how much money they raised for CAFOD next week.

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My Rio World Youth Day journey

 Marianne Rozario in MDFAbout the Author: Marianne is in her final year at St Andrews University, studying International Relations. Last summer she traveled with other young Catholics from around the UK to visit Brazil and saw first-hand some of CAFOD’s work. 

For three weeks in July, I was in Brazil alongside eight other young Catholics from around the UK. We spend the first couple of weeks in São Paulo, seeing the work CAFOD’s partner organisations Apoio and MDF do. Our final week was spent going to an event called World Youth Day (WYD) in Rio de Janeiro.

Marianne Rozario favela skyline

Apoio helps turn abandoned buildings into social housing and helps to legally fight for the rights of those buildings. These ‘occupations’, as they are known, possess an incredible sense of community by all who live there; an environment whereby everyone helps each other and all pull their weight to maintain the upkeep of the building. What struck me, as well as the sense of community, was the genuine gratitude by all who lived there for the work of Apoio, for they would be left to live on the streets or in favelas (shanty towns) without them.

MDF is a movement that fights for the defense of those that live in favelas. We spent time with the youth group that MDF supports. In doing so, I got to see the reality of Brazil from young Brazilians themselves. What surprised me most was that a lot of these young people and those that we met through Apoio were forced to give up on an education in order to find paid work. I realised very early on that young people in Brazil had to mature so quickly – I felt that more often than not they were robbed of a childhood. The particular group that we met were so lively, welcoming and open – I feel so blessed to have been able to build up such good friendships with such amazing people. I shall never forget their enthusiasm, musical and dancing abilities! This group journeyed with us to WYD in Rio and by the end we became one group – it honestly wouldn’t have been the same without them!

Marianne Rozario two groups together

WYD itself was an extraordinary, insane and amazing experience! Over 3.5 million, yes million, young Catholics from around the entire world essentially took over the city of Rio de Janeiro standing united and proudly professing the love we have for our faith. It is a remarkable achievement by any standard! The weeklong activity consisted of catechism sessions, Mass, Stations of the Cross, Confession, concerts, etc. It is an event whereby stopping and having a conversation with the stranger next to you was completely normal – for they too were a young Catholic who had travelled to Brazil to experience this event. The pinnacle of WYD was all of us sleeping under the stars on Copacabana Beach and then awaking for Mass with Pope Francis the following morning. A smile can always be seen on my face simply thinking about my time at WYD. For all you young Catholics that have never been before, I can’t encourage you enough, go to WYD, you will gain so much.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. If you would like to see more about my experience with CAFOD’s partner organisation in Sao Paulo and my experience at World Youth Day, here is the video blog I made:


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Filed under Brazil, CAFOD, greatgeneration, Latin America and Carribean