Three projects in Brazil

Visit to 3 Brazil projects by Sister Bride, LSA Liaison Officer with Misean Cara : Inter-organizational Capacity Building training in Caruaru - Global Connections: Partnerships in Umburanas with Project Hope, Boston, and Trocaire, Ireland - Visit to the Settlement of Landless Families in MinaisGerais.

1. JPIC Inter-organizational Capacity Building training in Caruaru.

On my recent visit to Brazil to monitor some projects financed by the Irish Government through Misean Cara, (Irish Government Aid) I had the interesting experience of participating in a new collaborative initiative launched by the JPIC Brazil. This initiative is a Capacity Building course funded by Misean Cara and taking place in three modules over 1 year, in the city of Caruaru. The target group of 28 participants comprised LSAs and local community leaders who are involved in the management of community-based projects in three areas in Brazil– Caruaru, Umburanas, and Minas Gerais.
In line with the missionary thrust of the Congregation the purpose of this training is twofold. Firstly, it offers opportunities for empowerment of people with the skills necessary to continue these projects when our missionary presence indicates that it is time for us to move on, and respond to new missionary calls elsewhere. Secondly, it offers opportunities to create and strengthen networks of support and solidarity among the people of our local communities so that they may be able to draw strength from one another in face of the many challenges and difficulties which working for justice and peace presents.
I participated in the first 5-day module of the course, which focused on sharing of experiences of the 6 participating project teams, as well as project preparation and elements of LSA spirituality. The module opened with an inspirational input by Padre Everaldo dealing with victimization and confronting discouragement. All of the organizations present presented their rich and varied experiences of working for justice and peace and better living conditions for their people. Prof. Dena from the State University, FAFICA, facilitated an excellent two-day workshop on Project Proposal Writing drawing on the experience of all present. Sr. Dirce LSA guided us in some creative moments of reflection and shared fundamental elements of LSA spirituality that nourish us on our Justice and Peace journey. This module concluded with the presentation of 4 project proposals drawn up by groups during the 5 days.
2. Global Connections: Partnerships in Umburanas with Project Hope, Boston, and Trocaire, Ireland.
On my visit to two projects in the semi-desert region of Umburanas, Evett Cortez, Child Care Specialist with the LSA Project Hope, Boston, accompanied me. In 2011 Evett spent two weeks training a group of local women who run preschools, in the Ages and Stages method of evaluating the development of a preschool child. She returned in November 2012 to evaluate the results of using this evaluation tool. 18 women took part in the follow-up workshop and Evett was very happy that they were able to apply what they had learnt. By being able to measure each child’s development over time, and in collaboration with the parents, the women hope to be able to ensure that each child benefits to the maximum from preschool. Also the results will hopefully facilitate getting grants for the preschools. During our visit, Clare O Neill, Trocaire also in Umburanas doing an evaluation with the Citizens’ Forum of Umburanas of their social justice work, funded Trocaire. The outcome of this evaluation was that Trocaire is committed to funding the Forum for another year. These North-South partnerships are of vital importance as they offer resources and support otherwise unavailable to organizations in the semi-desert.
3.Visit to the Settlement of Good Hope, MinaisGerais
Through Sr. Gertrudes, LSA, Sao Paulo, Misean Cara in partnership with PAL, Ireland, co-financed the purchase of a tractor for an Association of 18 landless families in MinaisGerais. Previously they had no machinery. One year on, I went there to evaluate the difference that the tractor had made to the lives of these families. Tragedy struck this rural settlement on the first day of my visit when the President of the Association was murdered. Two people are now in prison for his murder; they had been constantly stealing boxes of his produce over recent months. Even in the midst of this tragedy, and very shocked by what had happened, the families managed to gather before I left, to tell what difference the tractor had made to their lives during 2011. It was heartening to see how many had been able to till land which was previously inaccessible because it was so hilly. So they had a much greater harvest than previously. The tractor transformed these rough hills into acres of coffee, beans, corn etc…a joy to see!
My visit confirmed for me in so many ways the tremendous capacity people have to develop as human beings when opportunities are accessible. It was a joy to see simple examples of where the Kingdom of God was most surely taking root…people helping each other to have a more dignified life, funding agencies offering help in respectful ways which offer hope, neighbours in solidarity with each other in times of crisis, people learning together and struggling together overcoming almost insurmountable obstacles so that ‘Another world is possible’ – truly an inspiration! I returned to Ireland deeply grateful for once more having had the opportunity to dip into such energy and hope, and to witness such clear evidence that the Kingdom of God is indeed among us.
Sister Bride, Anglo-Celtic Province, Little Sister of the Assumption
26th January 2013


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