SOFIA’s first trip ever to the Salvatorian missions in Brazil took place at the beginning of 2016 by Daniela Coppola, Coordinator for Asia and Latin America. The trip covered three states: Ceará, Maranhão and São Paulo, and was aimed at getting deeper insight into the life and activities of the local Salvatorians with the ultimate purpose to further assist them in developing and funding their social and pastoral projects in the country.
Daniela’s mission was mostly concentrated in Coelho Neto, a town of 50,000 inhabitants in the northeastern state of Maranhão. There, the Salvatorian community of Santa Ana Parish of four – Fr. Charles the Superior, Fathers James and José Carlos, Brother Paulus - has been implementing various apostolates, among which is a rural project for the improvement of the living conditions of 40 small-scale farmer families living in Vila de Fátima, one of the 100 plus communities under the parish.
The project, in its last stages of implementation, revolves around three major areas of income generation: (1) creation of a bio-vegetable garden for direct consumption and selling of surplus; (2) setting up of a goat farm and (3) establishment of fish breeding. In 2014 the Italian Bishop’s Conference awarded a grant covering the purchase of a tractor, the creation of the vegetable garden, the construction of a goat pen and the creation of four fishponds. Also, the farmers underwent training workshops in all three areas as well as in marketing techniques.
With much effort and profound commitment from the part of the beneficiaries, and under constant coordination and monitoring of Fr. Álvaro Macagnan first, and Fr. James Wilson later, the project is proceeding well: the families are at their 3rd harvest and have raised 8 newborn goats; only the pisciculture is lagging behind due to a water shortage in the past year…
There is no doubt that this wonderful Salvatorian project will be completed with success in all its phases, and that this apostolate will become an example for nearby rural communities to set up similar activities for the benefit of their own families and communities.