Julie Cox is a CAFOD volunteer from Rochester. She is sharing with us how the Yanomami People in Brazil have been impacted by COVID-19 and Gold Mining. She is also sharing about her Virtual Amazon Pilgrimage to fundraise for the Yanomami Community.
Time is Running Out
Time is running out for the largest indigenous community of Amazonia. Numbering at 27,000 people, the Yanomami are true custodians of their Amazon rainforest reservation. Their ancestral homeland covers over 200 villages in an area of 2.3 million acres on the Brazilian-Venezuelan border. But their future and the future of the magnificent rainforest now hang on a knife-edge.
One of the most diverse forests on the planet and its inhabitants need your help. The Yanomami shamans elders depend on the forest for its traditional medical uses of fauna, whilst the younger generation are tragically succumbing to the new Coronavirus epidemic.
Impossible to Self-Isolate
“Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the reservation have risen some 260% between August and October – from 335 to 1,202 cases. So far, there have been 23 confirmed deaths.”Bunyan for Mailonline, 20 November 2020
An estimated 10,000 Yanomami have been exposed, as it is impossible for their community to self-isolate. Despite confining themselves to their village compounds in the forest, but the disease is still spreading.
Medical support including provision of ventilators is non-existent for such marginalised communities and chloroquine, used to treat malaria and COVID-19, has not been distributed. In addition food hasn’t been available at the medical points with child deaths increasing due to the Coronavirus and malaria.
The Yanomami have reported wildcat gold-miners taking the virus into isolated communities during the pandemic. Brazil’s president sent to congress a list of “priority bills” in January, including one aimed at opening indigenous territories to mining. The price of gold has skyrocketed and there are now 200,000 illegal gold miners in the Yanomami territory.
The miners are exacerbating the COVID-19 spread and their mines are scarring the previously pristine rainforest. Gold mining pollutes river water, land, and all life. The proliferation of gold mining activities pollutes the river water, destroys the land and increases the rate of Mercury poisoning for the indigenous community.
Discover Julie’s JustGiving Fundraising page, and donate to CAFOD’s partners, the Yanomami Hutukara Association (HAY).
Loss of Elders and Loss of Forest
The life-span of the Yanomami people is being further diminished as a result through this poisoning. High levels of Mercury are naturally being transferred and concentrated upward through the food chain towards the top predators and impacting the whole tropical forest ecosystem. Scientists have shown that deforestation of the Amazon is resulting in an impact on global weather patterns, leading to a reduction of crop productions. (R S Butler, 2020)
The loss of elders and their forest is tragic for the future of the Yanomami. Their oral tradition means that their knowledge dies with them. Since previous malaria epidemics, the loss of elders has weakened the resilience of the indigenous community as a whole.
“Nature is filled with the words of love” (Pope Francis in Laudato Si’)
We can all make a difference to the lives of the Yanomami and the future of their rainforest home.
Julie Cox is raising awareness about the Plight of the Yanomami through a virtual pilgrimage. With a target of £2000 she intends to cover the whole distance of the Amazon River through several years of walking, swimming and cycling. All donations will go directly to the Hutukara Yanomami Association, led by Davi Kopenawa.
We can all lessen our impact and learn to live simply and harmoniously with the planet. Support the Yanomami by signing their ‘Miners out Covid out’ campaign.
Visit Julie’s JustGiving Fundraising page, and donate to CAFOD’s partners, the Yanomami Hutukara Association (HAY) who work to defend their homeland from encroachment/destruction by illegal miners.
Each donator will receive a hand-knitted or crocheted headband as a thank you gift. Various designs are visible on Julie’s JustGiving Page. For a welcome headband please email CAFOD here and we will pass on your details to Julie. CAFOD will send the initial target sum as soon as it’s raised.
Julie’s fundraising will continue for the duration of her virtual pilgrimage, currently estimated to be over another 5 years.
“I very much hope to encourage others to begin their own fundraising initiatives – our Earth cries out as do the Best Keepers of the Earth, our indigenous peoples of the rainforest. My sincere thanks to all supporters. We can make a difference, together with CAFOD’s fantastic encouragement and outreach support.”Julie Cox, 2021
Discover Julie’s JustGiving Fundraising page.