Mission at the Border -Brazil-French Guiana

The OIAPOQUE Mission Report of 2015.

O-2   (Sister Zenilda is seated at left)

We missionaries, Sr. Zenilda Ferreira, SMIC, and Sr. Aparecida Viana (Sisters of Providence of GAP) e Ruth Oliveira (Lay Missioner from the St. Francis Xavier Parish of the Archdiocese of Belém) arrived at the Oiapoque on April 11th 2015, at about 5:30 AM with Fr. Nello e Sr. Rebecca who accompanied us and helped us for one month in adapting ourselves. It was with a heart full of joy and expectations that we stepped onto this land.

 

On the following day we were presented by Fr. Augustinho to the Parish during the Eucharistic celebration. Afterwards, we were presented to the communities who were present at the Parish to meet the representatives and also give us some reference about them

 

It is good to remember that before coming to the   Oiapoque, we spent a month at the house in CIMI in Belém. It was a time of formation and information with the coordinators of the mission, Fr. Nello and Sr. Rebecca and some speakers who helped orient us with reflections, sharing about the mission area and living among ourselves. As an activity we spent Holy Week in the Village of the Tembé indigenous people, in Santa Maria.

 

During this first year we had as our work plan to know the reality of the Oiapoque.

We did this by visiting the neighborhoods and by direct contact with families seeking information about trafficked cases, migrants, prostitution, etc. We also went to the Border at St. Jorge, in French Guiana where we met Sisters and priests and people who also work in the parish.

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During this year, we visited families of the communities of: São Cristóvão (Infraero); São José (Vila Vitória); Sagrado Coração de Jesus (Pertinho do Céu); São Raimundo Nonato (Nova Esperança); São Benedito (Centro); Nossa Senhora de Nazaré (Clevelândia); Planalto; and a part of the surroundings of the Mother Church (Central) where we live as well as having an opportunity to know some of the river communities and villages where Fr. Nello, Sr. Rebecca and Fr. Augustinho minister.

 

Our presence here in the Parish has served to help priests and parishioners. In all of the communities we seek to help and be a presence for life among the people in times of celebration. We visit many families, ill, elderly and principally where we meet children and adolescents as these are the most vulnerable ones. We always seek to give a word of comfort and hope, helping when possible, conversing and trying to discover how trafficking and prostitution happen.

 

With these visits, we feel it is an opportunity to have friendly encounters and trust with the families. Wherever we go we listen to many stories and learn about difficult family situations. There is social, economic emotional vulnerability often caused by violence to children and women, drugs consumed by youth and children, situations of parent-youth, prostitution of adolescents, often encouraged by the mother, mothers working in the mining fields with children who are alone our in some cases with relatives or friends where oftentimes the relative violates the child and sexual abuse occurs.

 

In the São José Community in Vila Vitória, and São Cristóvão no Infraero, which are humble neighborhoods with much violence, migrants, prostitution of adolescents we began a group of adolescents, girls who learn to embroider, crochet and do cross point stitching. In Vila Vitória, we also visit the CRAS where we began crafts with girls and boys who generally are poor children coming from situations of suffering.

 

In the Comunity of São Raimundo Nonato, neighborhood of Nova Esperança, we formed a a group of women who do artisan work such as crochet. We do this to promote self esteem, to value the woman, to occupy the mind and to create friendships. We always begin with a prayer and during the work we hold conversations about various family and community situations. There are 6 women in this group and we are looking for others.

 

As a concrete gesture of Christmas, with the help of the parish and the local forum, we held a Solidarity Campaign having as its theme “to give is to love” with the intention of collecting good, clothes, toys to be donated thus giving a joyful Christmas to the families and communities. Forty (40) families benefitted from food baskets, 50 children with toys and some 80 people (children and adults) with clothes.

 

At Christmas, we also had the partnership of DPAC Fronteira, where we created a “Friends of the Children” network along with a Christmas Solidarity in Vila Vitória, distributing toys, lunch and clothing.

 

We received many people in our Mercy House who come asking for information, water to drink and to be helped with food, to talk or seek our advise about some family problem among other things. These are indigenous city people, migrants and parishioners

 

During 2015, we also were visited. The Bishop of Macapá, Dom Pedro José Conti; Sr. Nila Soares, provincial, Sr. Maria Inês president of the National Office of the Religious Conference, Fr. Camille de São Jorge, Fr. Paulo of CIMI. All came to know something about our Mission on the Borders and to encourage us missioners.

 

Due to family illnes, Sr. Aparecida needed to return to São Paulo on October 30th where she is until now.

 

We know that we still have things to do but we are certain that being here in Oiapoque and knowing a bit about the culture of the people and their difficulties, problems and needs, little by little we will be helping and be a sign of the presence of the Kingdom among the people.