Which side are you on?

Life or death?

Justice or injustice?

Forests or degradation?

You must be wondering why I’m asking these questions.

After our adventures in the delivering of seedlings, on Tuesday, February 13, we went to the home of Lourdes Calais, our veritable second mother and one of our families benefited by the Forests for Water project, to plant 200 native tree seedlings and fruit trees!

It was a day of getting our hands dirty, literally! As always, we were very well received with hugs, coffee, and great food as we got to work!

Foto 01: Nosso voluntário Scott plantando árvore. Fotos 02: Fazendo os berços. Fotos 03: Nossos voluntários carregando mudas.

Smiles, holes, happiness, seedlings, jokes, sun, earth, sweat, tiredness … a lot of work! And how gratifying to see the seedlings that we planted in previous years growing and full of life! Nothing compares to seeing our hard work beginning to pay off.

Almoço maravilhoso!

As usual, Lurdinha made an amazing lunch! A delicious meal fit for a king. Fried cassava, okra with chicken, noodles with duck, hmm … what a treat always! After lunch we were all satisfied and continued to work more.

Lourdes and Faustino always take us on a tour and show us all of the work they’ve put in over the past 15 years! 33 years ago, there was no water on their property. (that’s right, believe me!).

Since they moved to the site, they have committed to planting trees and making several small barges, which capture rainwater and infiltrate it into the soil. This helps to avoid erosion and increases the water table supply, making healthier, stronger water sources. Where once they lacked water, today they are able to raise fish!!!

Foto 01: 2° nascente em fase de recuperação. Foto 02: Uma das barraginhas.

With all these strategies, they have managed to recover a spring that had dried up! Now, we are in the process of a second one. We from Iracambi are proud to say that we have been a part of this beautiful story since 2015!

As Martin Luther king said: “If I knew that the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today.”

Unfortunately, as in life, everything is not flowers! We were summoned by a friend to visit a place where an environmental crime is taking place right before our eyes. The farm is above the Waterfall of Nelzira, on a property that was previously owned by Mr. Joaquim Rodrigues.

Look at this!

Foto 01: Pequena parte da área desmatada. Foto 02: Área total desmatada. Foto 03: outra parte da área desmatada.

The State Forestry Institute, the State Park of the Serra do Brigadeiro and even the Environmental Police have already been notified, but deforestation was still ongoing. A group of 22 people, including several from Iracambi, went to find out more information and pressure local organizations into action. The tractor was removed at dawn and we immediately sent a complaint to the Environmental Police.

What a contradiction!! While we were planting trees, nearby thousands were being cut down! It’s very sad to see something like this…

And so, the question at the beginning of the text: It is not enough to just moan, we have to fight! Report, protest, stand up for the environment.

If you see this and do nothing, you are being complicit in the crime!

All this reminded me that just the day before marked the 13 year anniversary of Sister Dorothy Stang’s martyrdom. A nun and a heroine who, when asked if she was armed, said, “Here is my weapon!” and showed the Bible. She read the beatitudes in Matthew, 1-12, and then was killed with 6 shots.

“Blessed are the persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…”

So which side are you on, dear reader ?!

Arielle Canedo
Project Coordenator of Florests4Water Project

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