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Marist presence among the Indians

23/09/2011: Brazil - Photo gallery

We work in the indigenous community of the Maronal, at the source of the Curuçá River. Our Marist community of reference and support is the one at Tabatinga. I will return there at the end of the term, in December: ten days by boat, but only two if the boat has a motor.

Our commitment to the Maribo people of the Maronal is for the three years 2010-2012. Our  principal activity is the school education of the Indians. Last year, Br Eder was with me, but this year I am alone. We should be able to count on a companion from CIMI (Indigenous Missionary Council, of the Episcopal Conference), who will form community with me and collaborate in the work of teaching.

This year, we have to boost the commitment of the pupils to their studies. If everything goes as planned, the end of Elementary Teaching (9th year) will take place on 3 December. This will be something new, since this will be the first group from the entire Indian territory of the Valley of  Javari to reach the end of the school cycle. And for 2012 a « Digital bridge » has been planned, so that the students can continue their studies in the village (Intermediate Teaching).

Other important events are the 4th Meeting of « Pajés » (tribal chiefs) and the III Cultural Festival. Many communities of « Marubos » from the Curuçá and Ituí Rivers took part, as well as the  Mayoruna people from the Pardo River and two young  Matis.

The meeting of the « Pajés », and those of the healers and other « praying people », laid bare their concerns about the new illnesses which they are not familiar with and have no success in curing. According to them, these are illnesses of the Nawa (the white people). On the other hand, they are successful in curing their own maladies!

The cultural festival was a very rich time, principally in the integration of the different peoples and the cultural presentation of each of them: tricks, athletics, javelin throwing, bow and arrows, sport…

In this second term, education will have the place of honour as well as the traditional feasts. It is the planting season: manioc, mamão, bananas, millet, sweet potatoes of the Marubo people, and fruit: cupuaçu, mamão, mangue, abacaxi, cajou, goiaba… Hunting and fishing are also abundant.

The work is an important challenge for us. Apart from the distances, the worst problem is the constant malaria. Our house has been given us by the community.

Some youth and adolescents have asked for baptism. I will prepare them during this term so that they can decide whether or not they want to take up the Christian faith. We have to be very careful in the confrontation of the Christian religion with some cultural practices. It is important to conscientise these youth and adolescents in such a way that they can, much later, take a decision. The baptisms are planned for 4 December.

Brother Nilvo Favretto

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