Pray with us for Peru

Sophia White is a student part of Step Into the Gap programme in CAFOD. She is sharing with us what she has discovered while at CAFOD and raising our awareness on issues affecting Peru.  

Peru’s Vulnerabilities

In my more unreasonable and self-absorbed moments during lockdown, I have found it helpful to think back on the call with CAFOD’s Peru Programme Officer. During 2020, four different Presidents and four different Prime Ministers were in office, and children were only allowed outside for thirty minutes per day. These facts give some perspective about the relative freedom and stability we have here in the UK, while, unfortunately, also highlighting how insular our media proves us to be. 

Peru faces climate change and a lack of clean water

Peru is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change in the world. With its position on the San Andreas Fault and the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is also one of the countries most vulnerable to natural disasters.

Find out more about effects of Climate Change on Peru

How Can Our Church Help ? 

Recently, I had an argument with a friend about the environment. “Why do so many Christians not seem to care about the environment?” I asked. “Why do so many environmentalists not seem to care about people?” was her reply, and is one which I have seen repeated in various publications. 

Help us join environmental defenders to protect Peru

Concern for the environment is very much intertwined with caring about people. This surely comes as no surprise to you, dear reader of a CAFOD blog, but it can’t really be stated enough. We must listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, and in learning more about CAFOD’s work, I find it increasingly difficult to see how we can listen to one without the other, or love God without caring for creation. Now back to Peru.

Find out how CAFOD is supporting Peru

Melting Glaciers and High Deforestation

Peru is heavily reliant on glaciers for its water supply for drinking, crops, livestock, and for generating energy. With melting glaciers, water supplies are predicted to drop significantly over the next twenty years, which will have a huge bearing on life in Peru over this time. 

Melting glaciers leading to rising water levels in Peru

Since 1968 there has been large-scale urbanisation in Peru which has led to significant environmental as well as demographic changes. 20-25% of Peru’s population live in poverty, and, before the pandemic, around 70% of people work in informal employment. This means that people live on what they earn on a daily basis, with very little savings. Woman are less likely to have access to higher educational and stable employment opportunities than men.  This has now risen to around 80%.  

60% of Peru is in the Amazon, which, like is the case in Brazil, is facing high levels of deforestation. One of the most important industry’s for Peru’s economy is mining. This is also often responsible for widespread social and environmental damage, particularly water pollution, and other health problems which can affect local communities. Those who speak out against the negative effects of the industry and campaign to protect the environment and protect their human rights often face threats, and in some cases have been killed. 

Help us make a change in Peru

What We Can Do

CAFOD’s partners work to help people defend their rights, and empower them to be active members of their communities and neighbourhoods. 

In indigenous anthropology, we are the earth and the earth is us. Our own Christian and western anthropologies may beg to differ, but I have found that there is a lot of wisdom in this and have found myself more regularly pondering on and praying about it. 

We invite you to watch a video about one of our partner’s projects in Peru and pray with us to make a difference.

Pray with us for Peru with our St Martin de Porres prayer card

Our Partner’s Projects in Peru

Lack of Oxygen for the “lungs of our planet”

Sophia White is a Gap year student with CAFOD. Based in the diocese of Southwark she has decided to raise our awareness about some issues the poorest community in the world are facing.

Lack of Oxygen in Brazil’s Hospitals

This post and it’s call is shaped by a staff and volunteer briefing in which informed us of the lack of oxygen in Brazil’s hospitals, with a new strain of the virus spreading rapidly. This can seem like something of a cruel twist of fate when we consider that 40 percent of Brazil is covered by the Amazon rainforest, “the lungs of our planet.” 

The Amazon forest set on fire by loggers and farmers

Prior to the call, the news item that had been most shaping my consciousness about Brazil (except reports about Jair Bolsonaro’s policies and soundbites) was the Amazon rainforest fires and their lasting impacts. An area roughly the size of a football pitch is cleared in the Amazon every minute. We were told that these fires were caused by a mixture of climate change and the deliberate use of fire for agricultural reasons, which raises various questions about governance. 

Find out more about Climate Change and its lasting effects here

CAFOD’s Partners Working for Resilience and Hope

CAFOD’s partners in Brazil work in urban, agricultural and Amazon regions. While the geography is diverse, I was struck by the similarities in the projects, problems, and people – while we are all indeed one human family, my biggest take-away about the human condition this past year is that we are a far more resilient, creative and hopeful bunch than I had ever realized. 

Delivering food and hygiene kits to indigenous communities

The urban projects are largely concentrated in the favelas (low-income, informal settlements). These areas are poorly planned and have little in terms of public facilities. They are also cramped, and the infrastructure makes it challenging to adhere to public health guidance. Domestic violence has also been on the rise. One of CAFOD’s partners has supported nearly 8,000 families during the pandemic, with the help of many young volunteers from the local area.  

Find out more about how CAFOD works with partners to support Brazil

The Impact on São Paulo’s Favelas

One-third of the residents in one São Paulo favela have been left with no income. As a result, there has been a rise in street homelessness in the city (which has a total population of 16 million) from 24,000 before the pandemic to 1.2 million at the end of 2020. CAFOD’s partners have been lobbying the government to provide basic welfare for the poorest. 

This all served to paint quite a bleak picture of the city; any idea of a rural idyll was also to be shattered, though differently. 

Land Pastoral Commission Helps Landless Farmers

CAFOD’s partners work with many landless farmers, who are legally considered squatters and have very limited rights – and who are disincentive from investing in the land due to their lack tenure. CAFOD’s partners help them to access legal routes in order to get land titles, and to accompany them in getting to know their rights. 

Miners Out, COVID-19 Out: Brazilian Communities Launch a Global Campaign

Partners also work to help farmers develop environmentally-friendly agriculture and improve their yields and quality of their produce, and have established numerous farmers markets in the area. When COVID hit, the governor announced a strict lockdown which meant that farmers couldn’t sell their produce, and that harvest was affected. This also proved to be a time of inspiration and work for the common good. When the Land Pastoral Commission saw that they had a lot of produce that they couldn’t sell and there were a lot of people going hungry, so the farmers donated their produce. 

Finally, to the Amazon, where mining, deforestation and land grabbing are rapidly altering the life and culture of the rainforest (and planet).  

Signs from activists read “illegal miners out, COVID out.”  

Help up support Brazil through our Coronavirus Appeal

Coronavirus Impacting the Lungs of Our Planet

Deforestation in Brazil has surged to its highest levels

Per capita, the indigenous community is most affected by the coronavirus in the country. CAFOD’s partners distribute basic food to indigenous communities, and educate them about coronavirus measures. They are also supporting farmers to plant fruit trees, and to stay on the land in order to restore the ecosystem. This is made more difficult with the arrival of illegal miners who, among other things, can infect rivers with mercury. In this year’s Lent campaign we have been reflecting on the importance of water in our lives, yet here we again see how greed is taking away this most basic right from communities. Speaking about the taking of indigenous land will send me down a rabbit hole that is better left to someone else. 

Brazil is one of the world’s richest countries in natural resources, yet in the city, the countryside and the forest the people are really suffering. We were shown many glimmers of hope during the call, but it is a long way from the Carnival and Copacabana beach which shapes many of our imaginations about Brazil. 

Help up save Brazil and the “Lungs of Our Planet” today

Don’t stay silent, talk to your MP

Miriam McEneaney, a CAFOD volunteer for about 5 years, is sharing with us her journey with CAFOD. She is also calling us all, in the diocese of Southwark and Westminster, to put our heart and soul into CAFOD’s Reclaim our Common Home Campaign for the sake of future generation.

Miriam with MP Seema Malhotra in 2016

I started as an MP correspondent and then went on to become a roaming speaker at Masses for the Lent and Harvest Fast Day appeals. The next step in my CAFOD journey was when I became a Campaign Volunteer Co-ordinator for parts of the Westminster and West Southwark Diocese. It involves liaising with all the wonderful Campaign Volunteers, keeping them up to date with what’s happening and encouraging them to spread the word in their parishes. I know I always feel motivated after each call and I hope the Campaign Volunteer does too. There is also a sense of freedom because I am asking for time and not money.

I got really inspired by CAFOD’s campaigns

In the past few years, we have had some very inspiring campaigns – Power to Be, Generations Unite, Enough Food for Everyone IF, One Climate One World, Responding to the Refugee Crisis – to name but a few. However, I firmly believe CAFOD’s current campaign Reclaim Our Common Home encompasses them all.

Discover CAFOD’s latest campaigns

“Reclaim our Common home” is a call to action : don’t stay silent!

Reclaim our Common Home is CAFOD new campaign

In 2020, we experienced the worst global health crisis in a century. Everybody’s life was turned upside down. However, some people’s lives were devastated more than others. The pandemic exposed many of the inadequacies of how our world currently operates. As Catholics we are called not to stay silent and not to be passive. Reclaim Our Common Home is a call to action. CAFOD is at the forefront rallying the troops. I want to be a part of this.

With all the climate issues facing us today, it is a problem if we do nothing. Scientific reports spell out disastrous consequences here on Earth of doing nothing to curb CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gasses. Do we simply bury our head in the sand and say its not our problem? When I listen to someone like Greta Thunberg, I cannot sit by and do nothing.

Sign our Petition to your MP

I know I can always depend on the Campaign Volunteer’s support

Last November, CAFOD had a Faith in Action Day which looked at how to build a better world from the Covid crisis. It was really encouraging to see how many people took part. It never ceases to amaze me the efforts some Campaign Volunteers go to. One parish, in particular, are aiming for their Live Simply Award. They had a Care for Creation Month. I know when I call on CAFOD Campaign Volunteers, I can always depend on their support.

Read and understand what you can do

I am speaking up to my MP : join me!

In order to reach net zero emissions, we all need to make positive lifestyle changes to reduce our own Carbon Footprint. One small change, I personally have tried to do this year is to go vegetarian at least twice a week.

Miriam talking to her MP Seema Malhotra in 2017

However, this year, we have the power to go to much greater lengths to achieve our 3 major goals – Tackling the Climate Crisis, Ending Unjust Debts and Holding Business Accountable – by arranging virtual meetings with our MPs and encouraging everyone to sign our petition. As Britain will be hosting the G7 in June and the COP 26 in November, it is vital that we raise our voices and ensures the Government listens. It is our duty to ensure the Government does what is necessary to bring in a more just world. I am taking up the challenge and am waiting to hear back from my MP.

Can you imagine the difference it would make if we all talked to our MP. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity which we cannot let slip away. We are the voices of the most vulnerable communities who have contributed the least to Climate Change. We are also the voices of children and future generations. If we put our heart and soul into CAFOD’s Reclaim our Common Home Campaign, we can be a generation that future generations can be proud of.

Understand our latest Campaign Reclaim our common home