During these difficult times, our people in the Amazon are severely and violently affected by the second wave of COVID-19. We are not deaf to the cries of our brothers and sisters and treat them with mercy; we feel obliged to be a fearless source of decisive response as befits our fraternity, with immediacy and urgency, because the people are crying for help.
We would like to introduce here some initiatives carried out by the Capuchin Friars of the Custody of the Amazon and Roraima, in Brazil.
Initiative #1: “S.O.S. OXYGEN”
Our Curia, in the name of the entire St. Joseph of Leonessa Custody, is purchasing and installing a mini oxygen system, serving the entire city of Manaus and the neighboring inland villages. At the same time, we are buying (with the help of the friars of Colombia) individual oxygen units for the countless people who have not found places in hospitals, where there are often waiting lists of over 500 people before being treated for COVID-19.
Initiative #2: “A FOME DÓI”
The St. Sebastian Fraternity donates simple food baskets, hygienic materials, medicine and clothes for needy families downtown and around the outskirts of Manaus. They are offering emergency psychological counseling services and Franciscan discussions on true information, on justice, peace, support of life in the media (with journalists, communications operators, radio and TV stations).
INITIATIVE #3: “FOOD IN THE HOSPITAL”
The St. Lawrence of Brindisi Fraternity, with young post-novices, manually prepares food for health workers and staff, serving hot meals in hospitals that take care of COVID patients, because in the current chaos, due to the collapse of the state health care system, even professionals are suffering from hunger.
INITIATIVE #4: “POOR IN SILENCE”
At the Monastery of San Damiano, the Capuchin Poor Clares daily donate simple baskets, medicines, hygienic materials, home remedies, medicinal herbs, and to the poor in the suburbs, seeds for planting.
INITIATIVE #5: “S.O.S. MIGRANTS”
The Divina Pastora Fraternity is faced with a very serious migration crisis that has added to the pandemic. They donate basic food baskets, personal hygiene items, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment); provide for transportation of food aid and expenses for the regularization of documents (Venezuelans and indigenous peoples). The crisis of Venezuelan immigrants (many of them indigenous) was already serious before the pandemic. Currently, the border between Brazil and Venezuela is closed and for the most part there are no prospects for work or livelihood. The pandemic worsened, which was already critical. In Rorainópolis there is no service for COVID; however, the most pressing need is food. State aid has ceased, and many uncertainties still loom concerning vaccinations. It remains for us to trust God and to do what we can.
In the villages of Belém do Solimões:
INITIATIVE #6: “S.O.S. INDIANS”
The St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity is confronting some serious consequences of the pandemic by supporting indigenous young people with study grants, so that they can maintain promising paths of education commenced upon; and also to encourage poultry farming and family farming as other ways of addressing the growing economic crisis besides professional programs.
Who participates and carries out these projects? Our Fraternities of the Custody of the Amazon and Roraima, Brazil and the Poor Clares, with their various lay collaborators – a beautiful and extensive network of volunteers.
In answer to the question of how many people benefit from these initiatives, we admit that between all the fraternities, it is difficult to count; of course, we serve thousands of vulnerable families who are pressed with emergency needs, and it is good to remember that our service as Capuchins is always material and spiritual, since every plate of food is accompanied with an evangelical word of love and hope, or an eager response to prayer requests. We try to live like Jesus, nothing more, announcing and living for the Kingdom.
The Capuchin Friars Minor of the Custody of the Amazon and Roraima, Brazil
Amazonia – Photo galleries - https://flic.kr/s/aHsmU2E5Xi