By Joseane Paula
Faith, Hope and Sharing are some of the ways that people here in Belem found to bring healing and hope to them and their neighbors.
Some people created their own way to deal with this pandemic (COVID-19) without affecting their own mental, physical and religious structure. They didn’t lose their “ethos” which involves the ability of sharing with those who need help the most.
Among them we also have those who are losing the little they had and now are in profound need. The majority of these people maintain their families from “economia informal”: they do whatever they can do to make some money. They are school teachers, maids, music teachers and streets vendors who have lost their jobs. Many of them are starving at this moment! Because we carry the names of CHRISTIANS, we must be the first ones to start sharing whatever we have with them.
On June 4, I watched on the local news a story about a man who has been receiving financial support from the federal government of R$600 monthly (not more than $200 in Canadian currency). With this money he was able to pay some bills, buy some groceries and help a neighbour who was in need because the neighbour didn’t receive the government support. Empathy among our people has been a crucial font of hope for many. Financial support, which is not much, is still shared with others! This is amazing, people sharing the little they have: bread and fish multiplied, a lesson in humanity and solidarity.
When my son was a child he used to watch a cartoon that had a tune that goes like this: “I use the necessary, only the necessary, the extraordinary is a lot. I say the necessary, only the necessary, that’s why this life is life to live in peace”. In this pandemic we understand better the miracles of Christ, without thinking of them as being extraordinary. Here people act in a miraculous way. They are resolved to share everything they have, because their hearts are touched by the needs of others. Putting yourself in somebody else’s place is what Jesus expects from us. Having only what we need helps us to transform other people’s lives.
Our Church in Amazonia has received support from our companion Diocese of Huron (Canada), Trinity Church (USA) and from the General Secretariat of the IEAB-Brazil. This has helped our efforts to send food supplies to Indigenous people in Amazon forest and others who need food supplies so they can stay home during the pandemic. In our state of Para, more than 158 thousand have been infected and over six thousand people have died from COVID-19. This is heartbreaking!
Our Diocese as a whole, has been following the guidelines from the House of Bishops who follow the instructions from healthcare professionals. We go out only when we go to distribute food supplies. Here, at the church office, we also join our clergy when they go to distribute supplies to the families in need.
The distribution of food supplies is a heartbreaking experience. People are starving, they receive the supplies with a smile and a gratitude in their eyes… Then they want to hug us to express their gratitude, but we cannot respond.
Many times I would go back home crying and saying to myself, “What we do is so little; I cannot understand why they don’t have the very basic to live a normal life…?”
There are so many questions without answers… Please, keep us in your prayers.
Belem, July 21, 2020
Joseane Paula is the Anglican/Episcopal Diocese of Amazonia secretary.