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The good seeds

7 August 2013

hands holding seeds  

The first ideas that came to my mind, on the Sunday service before writing this reflection, were the historical efforts of the landless people in Brazil and a nice testimony from Jeff Williams, the former head of Christian Aid in Wales.

In 1992, on a Christian Aid communications trip, Jeff visited the region of Cascavel in the southern state of Paraná.

He spent a week accompanying landless people living in very difficult conditions: precarious plastic tents in an encampment alongside the road, in severe cold weather and with mud everywhere.

In 2012, Jeff came back to Brazil and, by coincidence, visited Paraná state once more. There he met again Solange and Chico, who, 20 years ago, were living in that encampment.

Now they live in a cooperative of Christian Aid partner the Landless People's Movement (MST). 

Jeff could see the cooperative thriving, the fertile land being socially used and productive - even serving the community around by selling it bread and milk.

He told the Brazil team he appreciated 'that long journey from the Cascavel encampment to the cooperative must have involved huge commitment and hard work'.

Jeff told us how difficult it had been to eat rice and beans - the traditional daily bread of all Brazilians - under threat from the 'pistoleiros'. 

Paid by the big landowners, they were terrifying women and children in order to force the landless to give up their efforts to break down their history of poverty and exclusion.

Coming back from Paraná to São Paulo, he shared a meal - prepared by my husband, in my house - made with the organic rice produced by MST cooperatives in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, and commercialised by one of the biggest supermarket chains in the country.

That Brazilian-Welsh dinner was one of those special moments in our lives when we can pray for our daily bread, and be happy for all those different gestures we make to challenge structural inequalities and to assist poor communities to thrive and live with dignity and fullness.

  • We must contribute to the development of inclusive markets that allow us, living in the big city, to buy cooperatives' products.'

This memory reminded me that in this world it is not enough to support access to land and credits for food production.

We must contribute, with our different partners, to the development of inclusive markets that allow us, living in the big city, to buy MST cooperatives' products such as organic rice, milk, brown sugar, cassava flour, tropical fruits and compotes.

These products are the results of 'the seed that fell into good soil, grew and produced a hundredfold', as described in the parable that Jesus shared (Luke 8:8).

Brazil continues to have one of the highest levels of land concentration in the world. 

Sixteen million people - equivalent to the population of Netherlands - live in abject poverty as a result of an economic growth model in which cars and infrastructure projects are more important than God's creation.

Our prayer is:

Merciful God,
Give us our daily bread
Pesticides which can slowly kill us,
Forced and child labour which is against all human dignity,
People displaced by the soya plantations to feed cattle in Europe, 
A degraded environment because the eucalyptus plantations take all vitamins from the soil,
Young people living in the favelas because their land must produce agro fuel for the cars and the consumerism of a few.

Give us our daily bread
Produced by
Small producers
Thriving cooperatives,
Dignified work of all women,
Environmentally sustainable options such as agro-ecology,
Happy families and smiley children with a future full of hope.
Thanks God.

Mara Manzoni Luz, Christian Aid Brazil country manager.


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