Amazonia and integral ecology

In Venezuela, a call from Father General for interprovincial networking

A collaboration by Oscariny Hennig

Beginning with an overview of five years of accompaniment of the Red Apostólica Ignaciana de Guayana (RAIG - Guayana Ignatian Network) Doris Toledo, coordinator of the Network, began Father General Arturo Sosa’s meeting with representatives of the eight works of the Society of Jesus that are active in the state of Bolivar, There are 23,500 people throughout the region, linked mainly by the social and educational concerns.

Professor Toledo explained that this network was formed in 2017, with the members identifying themselves as brothers and sisters under the same mission, spirituality and shared faith, with the purpose of carrying out common projects. Inspired by the fourth Universal Apostolic Preference and the Apostolic Plan of the Province of Venezuela, and articulated for the care of the common home, they were able to organise themselves in the context of the Pan-Amazonian terrain with indigenous peoples, taking into account the delicate situation that the state of Bolivar is experiencing.


Efforts for Amazonia from Fe y Alegría

Although the RAIG is a recent creation, the interest and work oriented towards the Amazon region has been going on for years in some of the Jesuit works that are part of it. Such is the case of Fe y Alegría with its Pan-Amazonian Programme, initiated in 2012 with lines of work oriented towards intercultural education, bilingual education and care and protection of nature.

In alliance with the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello Guayana Extension (UCAB Guayana), Fe y Alegría also implemented a training plan for socio-environmental leaders and promoters, with the aim of incorporating strategies to promote environmental management into their teaching practice. Likewise, progress is being made in the formation of ecological brigades to carry out concrete actions - inside and outside the school - to care for the environment. Another contribution of Fe y Alegría is the elaboration of didactic materials with content on the protection of Amazonia and their adaptation to indigenous environments.

Meanwhile, the Instituto Radiofónico Fe y Alegría is also working in the canyons of Delta Amacuro, a difficult-to-access area where it provides intercultural bilingual education to indigenous communities. Radio programmes are also dedicated to integral ecology issues.


UCAB Guayana: a university committed to sustainable development

The substantive functions of the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello Guayana Extension - teaching, research and outreach - are imbued with a concern for sustainability. Chairs with “green” focus, providing cross-cutting content in all undergraduate courses entirely dedicated to ecology, environment and sustainability, allow for the training, awareness and permanent exposure of professors and students to these issues.

The research agenda of the Center for Regional Studies, the Office of the Center for Human Rights and the action of the University Social Extension, based on the Sustainable Development Goals, combine training programmes in the areas of human wellbeing, safe water, sustainable productive opportunities and projects to strengthen social and community capacities to prevent and mitigate climate change, modern slavery, gender-based violence and violence against children and adolescents. Recently, UCAB has developed the Amazon Project, to inform and educate about this region through social networks.

UCAB Guayana is implementing an environmental management system under the requirements of the international standard ISO 14001-2015, a philosophy that permeates the management of the entire university campus. Finally, a novel experience has been the Spiritual Exercises with an ecological focus, an initiative that combines the structure proposed by St. Ignatius of Loyola with Laudato si' and the responsibility for the footprint we are leaving on our common home.


Strengthening ourselves in an interprovincial network

Father General Arturo Sosa praised the efforts of the RAIG, while inviting them to look beyond Guayana, to work beyond provincial borders on the major issue of the Amazon; understanding that “it is about processes of the Spirit, for which it is necessary to allow ourselves to be guided, to take time to mature and bear fruit”. Guyana, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia are already open to the idea of working together.

“It could be a very interesting topic to develop, to take advantage of these cross-cutting issues that have a common mission. It is a challenge, yet it is a seed to be sown,” concluded Father General.

[Photos: César Avilés and Kenmary Hurtado]

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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