One year, before lockdown, rather than visiting family in Scotland CAFOD’s Anne Fegan decided to have a different Holy Week. She walked the Camino de Santiago, and found each day memorable for different reasons.
Father Ed O’Connell is one of our Connect2: Peru narrators. He is a Columban missionary priest who has been working in Peru since the 1970s. He is one of the founders of our Connect2: Peru partner Warmi Huasi. From June until September 2016 he was in the UK on a home visit, and took the opportunity to go to some CAFOD supporter meetings in Bristol and Birmingham.
I have been in Bristol and Birmingham with CAFOD and representatives of Connect2 parishes. It was an opportunity for me to meet people from the parishes and to hear their desire to get closer to the work of CAFOD through the work in Peru. People asked lots of questions about CAFOD in general and the children Warmi Huasi works with. I enjoy visiting as a way to offer thanks for people in the Church here sending me to Peru, and also as a way of staying in touch with the local Church in England and Wales. I think it is important to make links between the local church in England and Wales and the local Church in Peru and the projects they run.
When I left Peru in June, Keiko Fujimori’s party had won total control of congress in the first round of the presidential elections. In the second round, Pedro Pablo Kuczyinski beat Keiko Fujimori only by 0.43% to become the president.
People are mixed in their responses. At the moment, people are unsure how the presidential elections will affect their daily lives at a local level. But people are frustrated. Young people are in jobs that require long hours – working like new slaves. More and more people are studying at university without job prospects once they graduate.
In 2012, Connect2: Brazil parishes sent a petition to the São Paulo local government with 3,000 signatures, supporting families living in the Mauá building who were facing eviction. At that time, the government agreed to suspend the eviction order, and to look into converting the building into social housing. They also agreed to convert a former textile factory, Prestes Maia, in to flats. The process since then has not been smooth, with the 378 families in Prestes Maia facing another eviction order just last year, in September 2015.
Finally, a month later, following 15 years of campaigning and advocacy by homeless families and our partner, APOIO, the local government of Sao Paulo signed over more than £4 million for the compulsory purchase of the Prestes Maia building. This abandoned building in the centre of Sao Paulo hosts the second largest occupation in Latin America. This community has lived through 26 judicial eviction orders, only two of which were successful. The news of the compulsory purchase represents a fantastic victory for APOIO and the 1000 strong community, as the building is now planned to be converted into social housing. Continue reading “Connect2: Brazil – Victory for 378 families living in Prestes Maia Building”
Hannah Patterson is CAFOD’s World Gifts Co-ordinator
I have to confess that I started planning for Christmas in July. Not because I’m super-organised, or because I was hoping to bag some bargains, but because that’s when we started to create the World Gifts Christmas catalogue.
We start work on the World Gifts catalogue early because we want to present a really fantastic list of gifts for our supporters to choose from. At any time of year, researching examples of the impact of CAFOD’s work is inspiring, although it was more of a challenge to choose between snowflakes and stars in the summer!
A gift that stands out for me this year is Motivating music. Costing £20 for an instrument and lessons, the certificate that comes with this gift tells Marcos’ story. Marcos, 14, from Brazil, had to take on the responsibility of caring for his father while he was unwell, and then suffered feelings of guilt when his Dad passed away. Learning to play the cello has given him an outlet for his feelings and boosted his self-esteem. Marcos now wishes to become a professional musician.
Motivating music is already on my gift list for my brother because he loves music. In fact, many of my loved ones will be receiving a certificate from me on Christmas morning! I think that at this time of year, when it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of present-buying, food-planning and Christmas-jumper-wearing, World Gifts are a simple way to choose something more meaningful. Like many of you, I’ll also be showing my family and friends I love them this Christmas by making a special effort to spend time with them and I’ll be helping to bring other families together by buying the Water for a family gift for my Mum and Dad.
Hadas Hailu’s family in Ethiopia used to suffer a lot due to a shortage of clean water. Not only did they have to spend time fetching water from a pump far away, but the water wasn’t clean and caused diseases. Thanks to World Gift donations, CAFOD’s local partner were able to construct a borehole in their remote village. Now the whole family has clean, safe water to drink, and instead of fetching water they now have more time to spend together.
Having clean water to drink seems like such a basic need that it’s hard to imagine not trusting your water supply won’t make your family sick, or spending time away from them collecting heavy containers. The water gifts that are available through World Gifts are a great way to make a practical difference for families.
Perhaps I’m biased, but I think we have a wonderful range of World Gifts this year. Gifts like Water for a family are examples of the practical work that CAFOD’s partners carry out daily. Presents such as Motivating music bring hope to those living in poverty mean you can share this hope and joy with your own loved ones. I hope you enjoy reading through your catalogue or browsing our website as much as I’ve enjoyed putting together the World Gifts range.
On Wednesday 19 August, the EU Ambassador to Brazil, João Gomes Cravinho, visited families in São Paulo where our partners, APOIO and MDF work, which has support from the EU.
During his visit, the Ambassador heard first-hand about the struggle of 450 families facing poverty and at risk of eviction in North São Paulo. With support and accompaniment from APOIO, the families have successfully negotiated with local government, a delay to the eviction order by 3 months. They have also secured a commitment from authorities to conduct a vulnerability assessment, which identifies people for referral to public housing and social programmes. Negotiations and dialogue with authorities to rehouse or provide permanent housing solutions for these families are on-going.
Several people told the Ambassador about the importance of this work. The Ambassador met resident Marcela Aparecida Neves, aged 26, who looks after her three daughters aged, 7, 6 and 18 months in Brasilândia.
She says, “Rents in São Paulo are prohibitively high. We were not able to pay rent and put food on the table for our children at the same time. Here we have found solidarity with other families and hope to provide our children with a more dignified life.”
The Ambassador also visited a new social housing unit, Conjunto Minas Gás II, now home to 100 previously homeless families. For 15 years these families struggled for their right to access decent housing and with the support of the project’s accompaniment, information, capacity building and community-based advocacy work, they have finally achieved their own home.
Claudete Amorim, one of the new residents, explained what the support of this project had meant for the families, “With the support of CAFOD and the EU through the Urban Programme, we had guidance about the decisions we were making which helped us to get to where we are today. We had meetings and demonstrations, and met key actors to demand our rights. Then in 2013 the building works started and in June 2014 we moved in.” She remembers the emotion of the moment, “When I entered my home for the first time the first thing I did was give thanks to God. It was a long fight, with many tears, but now all I feel is gratitude. My son couldn’t believe it. We used to live in a tiny room with a bathroom outside. When he saw his own bedroom he could not believe it.”
Claudete now has a home, and like other families in these apartments she is paying a mortgage at a level she is able to afford, but she continues to support other homeless families still struggling to access decent and sustainable housing.
“Connect2Brazil wishes you all a Merry Christmas! We are very happy with the Christmas cards we received from children and parishes England & Wales, and with the exchange of experiences. The children in Divinéia were really happy with your messages.” Zeza, Divinéia community leader and Connect2: Brazil narrator.
“Connect2Brazil will continue in our hearts forever. This exchange between local communities, this sharing and linking will be with us always. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for all in England and Wales, and especially for the children!” Terezinha, Connect2: Brazil, Divinéia community.
Left: Children in Divinéia with cards from the Connect2: Brazil parishes.
Right: Zeza and Terezinha with Christmas cards.
If your parish would like to join Connect2, you can sign up here.