La construction des ponts et une opportunité manqué pour l’Afrique

16 02 2009

par Antoine Bérilengar SJ

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Ce Forum social est bien tombé. Il a lieu au moment où le monde fait face à de grandes crises notamment, la crise alimentaire et énergétique, la crise financière sans précédent. Ce Forum offre ainsi l’occasion de contribuer à la recherche de solutions à ces crises. C’est ainsi que les organisateurs ont fait une large place aux débats autour de ces sujets. Etaient présents au Forum non seulement les principaux acteurs de la société civile mais aussi certains victimes, notamment les jeunes, les femmes, les peuples indigènes et les petits producteurs. A mon avis, le temps n’est pas plus aux accusations ou aux confessions, mais à l’action. C’est à ce niveau que les suggestions doivent être suivies d’effet. Il faut une volonté politique pour transformer ces suggestions ou propositions en actions concrètes. C’est à ce niveau qu’il faut trouver des mécanismes pour amener les politiques à travailler main dans la main avec la société civile pour initier des actions concrètes à même de réduire la souffrance des peuples.

Antoine Bérilengar SJ

Antoine Bérilengar SJ

Le Forum social est un lieu de construction des alliances et des réseaux pour réfléchir à tel ou tel problème. Je cite ici comme exemple les indigènes de la délégation des SAPI et ceux venant d’Amérique du Sud et du Nord. La chaleur de la rencontre, l’acceptation mutuelle, la convergence de certains points de vue sont au-delà de l’attente de la délégation respective. Ils n’ont pas seulement dansé, échangé des symboles de leurs leaders, mais ont organisé encore des rencontres supplémentaires pour jeter les bases d’une alliance durable. Ce qui les unissait plus c’est le dénominateur presque commun des défis de survie auxquels ils font face. Après la négation de leur dignité, maintenant ce sont leur moyens de survie qui sont en jeu. Plus, au-delà des barrières linguistiques, leurs cœurs et leurs visages ont parlé.

Les organisations religieuses ou d’inspiration religieuse trouvent de plus en plus leur place au Forum Social Mondial. Elles ont pris part à la marche inaugurale avec leurs symboles et leurs messages : la conférence épiscopale indienne – Pas de paix sans respect de droits humains ; les Sœurs de Notre Dame de Namur – une effigie de leur sœur assassiné, Dorothy Stang ; et les frères maristes qui depuis leur maison avec leur fanfare ont aidé les participants à marcher sous la pluie torrentielle. Elles ont amené au forum non seulement des groupes qu’ils ont organisés, mains elles ont surtout parlé ouvertement de leurs convictions, leurs fois (plural de « su fe ») et de la nécessité de prendre des valeurs éthiques dans la résolution des problèmes. Elles jouent leurs rôles d’agents de construction des ponts entre les peuples.

J’ai l’impression que l’Afrique était presque absente à cette rencontre. J’ai trop peu vu des Africains, des groupes organisés venant d’Afrique ou certains problèmes d’Afrique abordés. C’est l’occasion pour l’Afrique de faire encore entendre sa voix sur les la crise financière, ses guerres endémiques et ses lots des réfugiés, la lutte pour la démocratie et la bonne gouvernance, le pillage de ses ressources naturelles. De plus, l’Afrique n’a malheureusement pas amené au forum ses peuples de forêts (les pygmées du Cameroun, de la République Centrafricaine, du Gabon, de la Guinée Equatoriale, de Congo-Brazzaville, et de la République Démocratique du Congo), les Twa du Burundi et du Rwanda, et les hottentots ou Bushmen du désert de Kalahari. Elle n’a également pas amené ses peuples du désert de Kalahari ou du Sahara (la Touareg), de ses grands fleuves ou lacs (les fleuves Congo, les lacs Victoria et les lac Tchad, le Nil, etc.) en danger. Elle n’a pas non plus amené au grand jour des problèmes de la déforestation, de la crise énergétiques, les pollutions, les déversements des déchets toxiques (Côte d’Ivoire). En somme l’Afrique aurait pu non seulement bénéficier de sa participation au Forum, mais surtout saisir cette occasion pour exposer également les problèmes touchant la minorité ou peuple en voie d’extinction ou de son environnement et sa conception holistique de leur environnement.





Trevor Fry (BBC Sunday Starts) interviews Mary Colwell about the Pre-Forum and the WSF

15 02 2009

mary-04Mary Colwell spoke with Trevor Fry on the popular ‘Sunday Starts’ BBC program about her participation to the Jesuit Pre- Forum and the WSF. Click on this link below to go to the Clifton Diocese website and listen to the 10-minute interview:


http://www.cliftondiocese.com





Mensaje a jesuitas que trabajan en las fronteras

10 02 2009

Video de Luís Carlos Diaz, Centro Gumilla, Venezuela

Unas palabras de Fernando F. Franco SJ a un grupo internacional de unas 160 personas pertenecientes a la “Familia Ignaciana”. El evento tuvo lugar dentro del Foro Social Mundial en Belem, Brasil. Durante un día se intentó llegar a unas conclusiones sobre el modo de mejorar nuestra incidencia en el tema de la ecología y de los pueblos indígenas.

A few words by Fernando F. Franco SJ addressed to an international group belonging to the ‘Ignatian Family’. The event took place during the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil. The group attempted to arrive at some shared conclusions regarding concrete ways of improving our advocacy engagement on the themes of ecology and indigenous peoples.





Reflection on the World Social Forum

10 02 2009

Interview with Sergio Sala SJ

Sergio Sala SJ

Sergio Sala SJ

As mentioned in our previous Bulletin [Electronic News Service, Curia SJ], the ninth edition of the World Social Forum (WSF), took place in Belém do Pará (Brazil) from January 27 to February 1, with a total of 130,000 participants from 142 countries. They were representatives of social unions, associations, churches and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). After six days of meetings and discussions the Forum ended with a call for the 20 richest countries of the planet to reform the economic system that is shared with the poorest countries. We asked Fr. Sergio Sala, a student of theology in Belo Horizonte and who was at the WSF, to offer us some insights on the meeting.

First of all, which was the role of the Jesuits in this Forum?

In total 120 Jesuits, friends and collaborators, from 28 different countries, participated in the Forum; they took a very active role. On January 30th they held an “Ignatian Day” filled with many working sessions. Father Fernando Franco, Secretary for Social Justice, explained the evolution of Jesuit and their collaborators’ participation in the WSF; Father Roberto Jaramillo, Regional Superior, described the presence and mission of the Jesuits in Amazonia; this was followed by a period of exchange and discernment on the theme Reconciliation with Creation (GC 35, Decree 3, no. 31-35). In the afternoon we had a session on the theme Religious Faiths and Defense of Life in Amazonia (January 24-27); we prepared a message to the Society of Jesus, and the day ended with a fascinating Eucharistic celebration organized by indigenous groups of India and Amazonia.

How can the final message of the Forum be summarized?

The delegates’ conclusions can be summarized in three points: faith pushes us to social commitment and to political participation: this requires formation and militancy; faith contributes to a new model of development for the world; our network has to be improved because it shown to be indispensable for a critical analysis of reality and for a more effective strategy. Among the many proposals emerging from working groups, the assembly highlighted the following: 1) increase collaboration among universities and indigenous cultures; the hope is the creation of a new indigenous university of Amazonia, or at least the opening of new degree programs on environment and sustainable development in existing universities; 2) to strengthen the équipe, a group of lay and religious visiting indigenous populations via boats; 3) to cultivate a new creation spirituality which will bring to life the “ecobionomy”, as Frei Betto called the good administration of our life, of our world, of our relationship with God.

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The protection of indigenous people has to be considered a commitment for everyone, first of all because a person should have his rights respected and secondly because the preservation of the rain forest is linked to their continuation. These folks have lived symbiotically with nature for centuries, while the rest of humanity preferred to react against nature and create a physical and cultural rift with the environment. We have to learn from them to respect and take care of Amazonia. Jesuits are understood to have an important insight: they have ministered to the indigenous people of Amazonia for a long time, and therefore have an important role to play in their defense. But this is something one cannot do all at once. From the novitiate onward, young Jesuits should be educated according to the new “ecobionomic” paradigm and our educational institutions should consider seriously the protection of Amazonia, which has become an apostolic priority both for the Society of Jesus and for the universal Church. It is not only a question of sending Jesuits to work there. It is necessary to work as advocates at various levels. To this end, the Social Justice Secretariate, together with Ocipe, have organized a meeting among experts to draw up a declaration to prepare for this year’s UN Summit on environment in Copenhagen.

S.J. ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICE
PRESS AND INFORMATION OFFICE – ROME
Vol. XIII, N. 3, February 9, 2009





My experience at the Pre-Forum

1 02 2009

By Karen Monteiro, Regional Advocacy and Policy Officer, Jesuit Refugee Service Eastern Africa region

When I was first invited to attend the Pre-Forum and World Social Forum in Brazil, I knew very little about the event and how it would benefit my work in advocacy in the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) Eastern Africa region. The theme for the Pre-Forum has been about indigenous peoples in the Amazon region. My work involves working for refugees and forcibly displaced persons. Could my experiences of working in human rights and with refugees add anything to these encounters? The answer is a plain and simple YES.

Karen (on the left) during the March of the WSF

Karen (on the left) during the March of the WSF

The Pre-Forum provided a great opportunity for networking with like-minded persons from various organizations and also with Jesuit Institutions I never knew existed, but which have the potential of being a powerful advocacy network, which can add value to my work in advocacy. I have learnt that the problems faced by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon region are not unique to them or to indigenous persons in other parts of the world. They are problems experienced also by refugees and displaced persons that I work with in my region. I was surprised by the fact that not many people were aware of the work undertaken by JRS. I therefore felt that the JRS-East African representation to the Pre-Forum has ensured that a wider audience, both within the various institutions of the Society of Jesus and external to it, will become aware of the work undertaken by JRS.

There was a great opportunity for sharing best practices and lessons learnt. During one of the coffee breaks, I was introduced to a Brasilian lady working with indigenous people along the Brasilian border. She described the hardships faced by the indigenous people that make them resort to negative coping mechanisms, such as drugs, alcohol and even suicide. I discussed the psychosocial work undertaken by JRS in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya for refugees who were thirsty for more than just water, medicines, food and shelter. Refugees are trained to become counselors and they then provide counseling services to other refugees as well as training in counseling to ensure the sustainability of the programme. I promised to send the counseling training manuals and they can be translated into Portuguese as well as indigenous languages.

I personally feel that this event has helped to strengthen my faith and also my commitment to the work I am doing. The Ignatian Day and reflection on GC35 ‘Reconciliation with Creation´ has stirred up great interest within me to learn more about environmental issues and how they link with human rights. This is especially important when working with refugees and seeing the environmental degradation caused by refugee camps. We need to be involved in the research that is already being carried out on refugees and the environment.

I believe that this meeting would only be a disappointment if we leave Brasil and do not carry out or follow through on the great ideas that have come about from the meeting. I am very eager to enlist the contacts I have made for advocacy purposes which benefit my region. I am eager to ensure that people learn more about the work of JRS. I am also very eager to ensure that I maintain the good friends – from all corners of the world, of all languages and ages – that I have made in this beautiful region of the world.





Ecología y compromiso social

1 02 2009

de Carlos Quintana SJ

Soy Carlos Quintana, jesuita peruano, estudiante de teología en la Facultad de Belo Horizonte, Brasil. Me he formado en Ciencias Biológicas.

Me interesó participar tanto del Pre-foro como del FSM precisamente por mi experiencia de contacto con movimientos preocupados por temas sociales y con espíritu de cambio. En ese sentido fue fundamental comprender, dentro de la propuesta del Pre-foro, la relación entre los problemas sociales que enfrentan las comunidades de la Amazonía, sobre todo los indígenas con el compromiso que brota de la fe. Fe encarnada en diferentes contextos, culturas y pueblos que desafía a un compromiso social ante la preocupación por la tierra, el agua, la dignidad de las personas, el cuidado por la vida, el respeto por la naturaleza.

Continuando en esa línea, las conferencias del FSM de mi interés están relacionadas con el deseo que tengo de actualizarme en el debate que se presenta sobre ecología, desarrollo sostenible, cuidado de los recursos naturales y el compromiso social. Me ha enriquecido el conocer diversas experiencias tanto de institutos, universidades, ONGs y comunidades campesinas y vecinales referente a la reflexión, compromiso, sensibilización y acción ante los problemas ecológicos que enfrentamos; sobre todo me ayudan las sugerencias para viabilizar soluciones posibles en este campo de estudio y acción.





A voice from British Guyana

30 01 2009

by Paul Marin SJ

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My name is Paul Martin. I was born in Liverpool, England, and entered the Jesuits there in 1984. I first came to Guyana, in South America in 1989 to do my Regency. After 4 challenging but very happy years of theology in Brazil I returned to Guyana in 1995 to begin working with the indigenous people there. This is the work I have been engaged in up to now.

Just as the indigenous people of the world are a small and often poorly understood group within the modern globalised world, so Jesuits that work with them are small in number and often encounter difficulties explaining, even to fellow Jesuits, the point of this work. I was delighted to accept the suggestion of my Regional Superior to attend the World Social Forum and the Pre-Forum organised by the Amazonian Region of the Society. This was an excellent opportunity to renew contact with others who are engaged in similar work to myself and at the same time to meet many whose work is very different yet whose desire to see a world in which all have access to the necessities of life is the same.

The atmosphere both at the Pre-Forum and the Forum itself has been one of joyful celebration of life built on a sincere desire to act justly, valuing the unique contribution of each individual. As Frei Betto put it so well, Christian faith is a call to share in the faith of Jesus; to understand ourselves and our lives in the light of our relationship with the Father and to allow this understanding to determine the way we act.

If I were to offer one criticism it would be to say that in emphasising the call to share the faith OF Jesus and act as he acted we cannot ignore the cross. If we wish to model our lives on the life of Jesus we need to hear his warning that “anyone who wants to be a follower of mine, must take up his cross and follow me.” Just as those who held power at the time of Jesus chose to use that power to silence him, so those who hold power in today’s world will use that power to silence the voice of those who call for a different world. Christians must therefore also have faith IN Christ. That is to say we are called to believe that the cross is not the final word. Rather Christ who was crucified is Risen. He does not rise to prove his enemies wrong – if that were the case we would be reading of his appearances to Pilate, to Caiaphas, to those who called on him to come down from the cross. Rather he rises to prove his friends right – to confirm those who followed him in the faith that they shared with him.

The new world begins not when the powerful are overthrown but when those that they seek to dominate no longer allow fear to control their lives but live in the freedom of the children of God. That is a different world that in one sense is already here and in another will always be a dream for tomorrow.

The World Social Forum could so easily become either a protest rally dominated by passionate speeches denouncing the evils of the world – or a carnival in which people for a while forget the harsh realities of life in a wild party of music and dance. Yet, in the spirit of the Pre-Forum it could also be a joyful celebration of how the world could be with a commitment to the struggle that it will take to make it so.