Some of our Connect2 Brazil friends look back on 2017 and share how they are preparing for Christmas in their communities.
News from our partner MDF and the community of St. Joseph the Worker Pastoral Area
Jenilda – Vila Prudente Cultural Centre in the St Joseph the Worker Pastoral Area
“At the Vila Prudente Cultural Centre (CCVP) this year we organised different workshops with the children. Each month we had a different area of focus. From solidarity, to the family, the environment, which included a visit to the recycling cooperative. We worked on children’s rights and empowerment, Black History month against racism and discrimination, and in December we will celebrate the arrival of baby Jesus with a children’s concert.
Tania works as Communications Officer in our Latin America Team. Her role involves lots of opportunities to meet inspiring people like Edelmira, whose story of flourishing and achievement we are celebrating this Harvest Fast Day.
My first impressions of Edelmira when I met her in 2016, were of a friendly, welcoming woman, constantly busy. She was a little nervous of meeting me, a visitor from far away. I was also nervous about visiting Edelmira. CAFOD had sent me to interview her for our Connect2 El Salvador parish programme, and I was feeling the weight of responsibility!
Our Connect2 Brazil narrator Neti has worked tirelessly for 10 years to help the occupants of Maua to demand their right to decent housing. Now she needs your help.
Hello CAFOD friends. I am Neti. I visited some of you in the past. I would like to ask you to pray for all of us here in the Mauá Community. We are going through some really tough times; our rights are being violated. We in the Mauá community, have spent 10 years living in this building which we have cleaned, looked after and made a home for 237 families. For years, we have been negotiating for the acquisition of this building for social housing for an affordable rent. Now we are at risk of eviction. We have not been offered an alternative. We will have to leave our homes and live in the street. I am counting on you and your prayers.”
Tony Sheen is CAFOD’s Community Participation Coordinator for Westminster Diocese. Here he looks back on a memorable visit to São Paulo’s favelas in Brazil. He explains how seeing the Church ‘in action’ defending the human rights of those in need continues to inspire him.
A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to visit São Paulo and meet some of the people supported by CAFOD’s partners. Early one morning I travelled with Heluiza and Osmar from our partner APOIO, to visit a shanty town to the east of the city called Electropaulo Favela, where over 1200 families live in abject poverty.
Fidel and Julia live in Puentecitos, where they work improve life for their community with the support and solidarity of parishes in England and Wales through out Connect2:El Salvador programme. They asked us to share this advent message.
Dear Connect2 Puentecitos and CAFOD
We send warm greetings to all our friends working with CAFOD.
We were very happy that Clare and Bishop John came to our country, and especially that they came to visit us in our home, for Bishop John’s blessing on our family, with his hands that have been anointed by the Holy Spirit. This will help us to grow in our faith.
We admire Bishop John’s vocation as a representative of Christ, and his sacrifice in travelling from a land so far away to visit our country and our home. We feel blessed to have spent this time with a man who has given himself to God.
In November 2016, the Chair of CAFOD, Bishop John Arnold, visited El Salvador and Nicaragua. The last stop of his 10-day programme was to visit our friends in Puentecitos. These are some of his reflections.
We set off for a day in the rural area of Guaymango in the Department of Ahuachapan. It was about a two-hour journey to the West, almost to Guatemala. The good roads lasted until just a few miles from Guaymango and the last couple of miles were really nothing more than a single track of unmade road.
The scenery, however, was magnificent with mountains and volcanoes dominating the plain which stretched across to the ocean, which was clearly visible. Everything here is green and manages to remain so for most of the year. Agriculture is the basis of all livelihoods here though factories and assembly plants are increasingly present, together with small hotels which are hoping to see an increase in the tourist trade, particularly for what is apparently excellent surfing. This part of El Salvador was not so much directly affected by the war (1980-92) but many young men here were “pressed” into the army. The area has suffered in recent years by the increasing control of gangs.
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.
Maristely is the narrator of one of our Connect2: Brazil partners. She is currently a student in her final year at university, but alongside her studies she continues to participate in activities to defend the rights of people living in favelas and poor informal settlements with our partner, Movement for the Defence of Favelas (MDF) in São Paulo. Here Maristely talks about the 2016 Olympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil this summer.
“On the sporting front, there is anxiety in making sure the Olympic Games take place. But the way these Games will happen is depressing.
Since the World Cup and the Olympic Games were first announced in Brazil these kinds of mega sporting events were seen as opportunities for improvements in basic infrastructure of the country, but in the preparation process, there has been little space for civil society participation and technical experts who know about urban development were not involved in the discussions.
As the deadline approaches, there is a need for an accelerated release of funds to ensure that the games take place and that the infrastructure is ready. This leads to works that are not ready in time and rushed through quickly, resulting in the removal of poor urban inhabitants from good locations.
Bea Findley travelled to Peru with CAFOD as part of the Step into the Gap programme, and in this blog explains how our partners are working on human right issues.
I’m writing this blog today because the political conflict in Peru feels like more than just history to me now; I have a real understanding of what the people went through and the difficulties of the recovery.
CEAS are the social action group of the Peruvian Bishop’s Conference. I met two women, Bernadina and Clotilde who receive support from CEAS in response to their suffering during the internal political violence which ended in 2000.
During that terrible time, approximately 70,000 people were killed or disappeared. 75% of these were from rural areas and 73% were speakers of the indigenous language, Quechua. A terrorist organisation called Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) began the violence and the army responded with more violence.
There were horrific mistreatments of people and breaches of human rights: people were tortured, killed, displaced and disappeared. Both the Shining Path, the army and other armed groups were responsible. Nobody could be trusted.
John McBride is CAFOD’s Learning and Development Coordinator. Here he shares his fond memories of carrying the Olympic flame for CAFOD, and about meeting some of the partners who have inspired him to continue speaking out to protect our common home.
2012 was a big year in Britain, Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, Andy Murray won at Wimbledon and Rory McIlroy won the US PGA. We also hosted the Olympic Games that proved to be a triumph. We showed the rest of the world that we were good at sports. In a small County Durham town, I made my contribution to the summer of sport by carrying the Olympic flame, representing CAFOD supporters and partners through the market town of Barnard Castle.