Encounters to « the rhythm of a canoe »

Fr Christopher Six was a friend of ATD Fourth World for many years.  He set off to join the Amazon region in 2005 to help integrate the Mobile Team into the Manaus region. He unfortunately died last year, but others continue his work. Luisa F. has become our correspondent and she gives us her testimony.

“What is the Mobile Team? It is a team of religious and lay people, men and women who travel throughout the Amazon region. We share the lives of people who live alongside the Amazon River: indigenous rural labourers and marginalized city-dwellers. We have been doing this for 12 years, weaving new networks, adding to new local projects. We work from three centres in the Manaus region: at Tabatinga, on the border of Columbia, Peru and Brazil; and at Roraima on the border of Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil.

The team’s work is based on the “rhythm of the canoe”: we paddle, we navigate, and we travel with people who live on the riverbanks, with their hopes and their limitations. Together with them we go forward, we stop and sometimes we go backwards, but we are always moving. With them: not in front, not behind, but side by side, in companion-ship, in solidarity, and listening to them, motivated by their resilience and their boldness.

We seek to be close to the most marginalized, in particular the destitute urban population.  But we also commit ourselves to visit villages, sharing the lives of the inhabitants, supporting the women’s movement, training leaders and taking on the challenge of promoting the native culture. As well as this, we get involved in the research made by the riverside tribes to affirm their ethnic origin.  The commitment of Fr Christopher had already opened the horizons of these people in enabling their recognition as a distinct ethnic group.

The teams also maintain a ‘register of memories’ which keeps a record of daily actions and events; the members also register their own thoughts and experiences. We would like to write an unofficial history as told by these people, which demonstrates their feelings and their strength of character.“

Luisa F., Amazon Region, Brazil