Tag Archives: Brazil

Reflections on 26 years at CAFOD

This November CAFOD’s legacy information officer, Heather, will be leaving CAFOD after 26 years. Here Heather reflects on some of the milestones and changes she’s witnessed during that time.

Heather Vallely with diocesan colleagues

Heather Vallely with diocesan colleagues

26 years is a long time to spend in one place but, as I approach my retirement, I feel fortunate to have worked for an organisation that makes a difference.

The seeds of my interest in overseas development were sown by the teachers, priests and relatives who encouraged me to care about people in poverty.

Readers of my generation will remember the images of starving children in Biafra during the Nigerian civil war (1967-70). As a teenager I didn’t understand the complex and dangerous circumstances in which agencies like CAFOD were working on the ground; but I knew I wanted to help.

Years later, the call to action for my daughter’s generation was Michael Buerk’s report of the 1984 Ethiopia famine. Sr Colette, a remarkable nun who was running a feeding programme for malnourished children, told our parish how important the support she received from CAFOD was.

Donate to our work responding to emergencies

In 1989 I joined CAFOD as parish promotion secretary; supporting the Friday self-denial groups, volunteers, regional organisers and parishes. There were around 50 staff in our Brixton office then and we’d just opened our first international office in Albania.

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Connect2: Brazil: “It was a long fight, with many tears, but now all I feel is gratitude”

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.

Marcela with her daugher

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.

To find out more information and sign up to Connect2: Brazil go to: cafod.org.uk/connect2

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‘We are fighting together to save the planet’

Sunday, 9 August is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Our partner Davi Kopenawa Yanomami has dedicated his life to working to ensure that the rights, culture and land of Yanomami and Ye’kuana indigenous people are respected. In 2004, he founded our partner organisation Hutukara Yanomami Association, HAY. In September last year, Davi left his home in the Amazon to visit us here in the UK. He walked with CAFOD pilgrims in Hexham and Newcastle Diocese and met school children in Jarrow. He joined the march in London that launched our One Climate One World Campaign.

This is what Davi has to say about how we can work with his people to build a better future for us all.

Davi marching with CAFOD supporters at the Climate Coalition march in September

Davi marching with CAFOD supporters at the Climate Coalition march in September

“Hutukara means the World; the World where we live: you and us. Hutukara wants to protect, to preserve the Earth. We want to take care of the streams. Water is a priority. Everything that exists in the planet: the land, water, mountains, trees, the clean air, and we the indigenous people and you, we all live in this World. Hutukara’s role is to ensure that the land stays alive for our future and generations to come. Hutukara defends the people, the land, the forest, the rivers, the animals, clean air, health and education. We, the Yanomami people, are the guardians of the forest of our country.

Reflect on care for our common home with our Laudato Si’ study guide

Here [in the UK], people have understood. They are worried about the lungs of the planet. So they did something. The indigenous people did something, and the people from here did something. We are fighting together to save the planet. This is very good. It is the first time I have seen a demonstration for our planet. I really liked it. Continue reading

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“Connect2: Brazil will continue in our hearts forever”

Zeza and Terezinha send you this message from Brazil:


“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.

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Connect2: Brazil is now linking up within Brazil too!

Terezinha - Connect2: Brazil

Terezinha, top right with representatives from MDF, APOIO and Connect2: Brazil

As women have taken the spotlight in Brazil’s Presidential elections, Emily Mulville, CAFOD’s programme officer for Brazil,  shares with you an exciting initiative taking place in the Connect2: Brazil communities, which is helping to strengthen women’s voice and reinforce their community participation. Emily says:

I have just come back from Brazil, where I took part in an urban learning exchange visit to the Amazonian state of Pará with Connect2: Brazil narrator Terezinha and two other local community representatives who work with our partners MDF and APOIO in São Paulo. The visit was an opportunity for our partners to learn from each other and share different strategies and approaches to support poor families in urban areas. CAFOD’s partner in the region, the Church Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), is working in the fast growing migrant urban settlements of Marabá and Tucuruí, working with some of the poorest and most marginalised communities, families, and women, helping to strengthen their confidence, voice and livelihoods. Terezinha and her colleagues shared their own experience of struggling for decent housing in Sao Paulo, and of organising women’s cooperatives, mobilising community members, and developing strategies for action based on their lived reality. This is what Terezinha had to say about it:

Connect2Brazil is now linking up within Brazil too! We feel so blessed and grateful for having had this opportunity for sharing learning and exchanging our experiences, made possible by CAFOD and the Pastoral Land Commission. We came back with our hearts full of welcome and inspired by our new friends and the wonderful men and women we met in the local communities we visited. We met so many courageous women leaders and people who are fighting for a better life for their families and communities, even in the most adverse and violent conditions. They are a beacon of hope for us and for the people. We have been able to share our experiences and how we work here in São Paulo, and also learn from them about their joys, their problems, and also about from the courage and the strength of the women in these settlements. We have also brought back to the women in the favelas of São Paulo some of the rich experiences and inspiration we gained from the commitment and struggle of women in the Amazon. Our women’s cooperative here in São Paulo, Bread and Art, has already got some good suggestions for the women of the Palmares and Bairro da Paz neighbourhoods! We look forward to continuing this learning when our new friends visit São Paulo next year.”

I also wanted to thank all of you who supported our ‘Stand by Brazil’ campaign during the World Cup, we had a fantastic response. Finally, I would like thank you for the lovely messages sent by parishes and schools following the success at Mauá. This solidarity in both the good and the bad times, knowing we are standing side by side, is giving our partners and Connect2: Brazil communities strength and joy to continue their struggle for justice, voice and better living conditions for those who poorest.

To find out more about Connect2: Brazil, and for how your parish can get involved,  visit cafod.org.uk/connect2brazil.

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