One of our nine tips for SMEs in our recent blog is ‘Be generous’. In this Christian Aid Week, SME Strategies is very pleased to be supporting this fantastic charity that does so much good on the ground in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the world.

Whilst Covid-19 has played havoc with our economy and many lives have tragically ended so much sooner than they should, in other parts of the world Covid-19 has been, and is, even more catastrophic. Christian Aid’s work has never been more vital.

Different parts of the world are suffering badly from Covid-19. We have seen distressing news reports from India recently. Another badly affected part of the world is Brazil. Some time ago I had the opportunity to visit the rain forest in the Brazilian Amazon and go to Manaus. It was a very moving experience that brought home the very real challenges the whole world faces through deforestation of the Amazon region.

This blog highlights Christian Aid’s wider work in Brazil.

A second wave of Covid-19 threatens traditional communities in Brazil

The Amazon region, known as Lower Amazon, in the State of Pará in northern Brazil is experiencing a critical moment in the Covid-19 pandemic. Since January 2021, case numbers have been rising rapidly in a region that has a fragile structure of healthcare and a limited number of intensive care beds. The geographical isolation and great distances represent an extra challenge for patient care. This scenario and the confirmation of the presence of the new coronavirus strain from adjacent Manaus, led to a new recent lockdown. The strength of this second wave has sparked deep concern in local communities. The health system in the city of Manaus has collapsed.

Not everyone has maintained social distancing in the region. The local community watch in disbelief as mining activities proceed normally but with unsafe Covid-19 practices. The largest producer of bauxite (which is the main source of aluminium) in Brazil is located in this region. The company owning the mine has multinational shareholders. It sells to Europe, North America, Asia and Brazil. The mining activity was considered “essential activity” by the Brazilian government.

Mistakes by President Bolsonaro’s government delayed the start of vaccination and left Brazilians with no guarantee of the necessary doses to immunise the entire population.

Many communities in the region are located along the Amazon river and remain in isolation without knowing when or if they will be vaccinated.

But Covid-19 is far from their only problem

Christian Aid’s partner in the Amazon is the charity, Comissão Pró-Índio, who have been essential in supporting local communities in practical ways during the Covid-19 pandemic. But Christian Aid with Comissão Pró-Índio have been working tirelessly for some years helping the communities in Brazil meet many challenges.

Christian Aid’s vision is of a protected Amazon that is a cherished part of our common home. The hope is to reduce the inequalities faced by Amazonian communities, especially those that threaten women; through the implementation of sustainable models of development that respect its ecosystems; and the rights of communities that live there.

So what can be done?

Change for the people of the Amazon can, and will, come about by:

  • Empowering historically excluded and marginalised communities to participate, influence and inform decision making processes that directly affect them and their territories.
  • Ensuring communities have access and control over land and resources, through having legal title to their land and services in place.
  • Building sustainable forestry systems which are protected for future generations.
  • Developing mechanisms of transparency, accountability, and inclusion for all who operate in the Amazon region.
  • Challenging the unjust power structures which promote unsustainable development models, marginalise communities and damage ecosystems in the Amazon.

But it’s not just the Amazon in need, is it?

Indeed not. So many parts of the world are crying out in need and suffer injustice. Christian Aid believes that the world can, and must, be swiftly changed to one where everyone across the globe can live a full life, free from poverty. Christian Aid works globally for profound change that eradicates the causes of poverty, striving to achieve equality, dignity and freedom for all, regardless of faith or nationality. Christian Aid is part of a wider movement for social justice – providing urgent, practical and effective assistance where need is great, tackling the effects of poverty as well as its root causes.

We can though all help

More information and ways to donate can be found on the Christian Aid website. There are resources there to inform our understanding of the often-complex issues.

Christian Aid Week is a great time to make a real difference to the people of the Amazon and to the many other amazing projects with which Christian Aid is involved around the world. Supporting Christian Aid is a wonderful way of expressing faith in action.

We can also raise vital awareness through conversations with our family, friends and colleagues. We can encourage our political leaders in their endeavours by our constructive support and peaceful challenge of injustice and inequality. We have a voice, we have a vote.

It is privilge for us at SME Strategies to have Christian Aid as one of the charities that we support,

David

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