Brazil: Sailing down the mighty Amazon

The Amazonian District (BAM) was created in 1995 by the Society of Jesus in the hope of serving this vast area of northern Brazil better. This entailed strengthening social apostolate interventions in favour of marginalised groups, among them indigenous peoples and ?ribeirinhos? (a marginalised and mostly indigenous group of Amazonia living on the rivers? banks), rural workers and the urban poor. From now on, the people of Amazonia will benefit from a new endeavour of the Brazilian Jesuits: the Social Action, Reflection and Formation Service (SARES, Serviço de Ação, Reflexão e Educação Social). After a one-year period of incubation during which the conceptual and organisational basis for its functioning was laid, the new initiative is now ready to take its first steps. SARES will do so by offering a ?service?, as its very name implies, rather than being a ?centre?. Armed with the skills of a qualified interdisciplinary, inter-congregational group that includes lay people, the team will implement, together with other secular or religious organisations, a series of concrete projects. These include a political formation training course for community leaders to start next August in collaboration with the Federal University in Manaus and CIMI, the Indigenous Missionary Council; as well as a meeting for pastoral workers in intercultural contexts to take place in November. SARES will also tackle other issues, such as migrations, the urban sprawl and the labour situation in Manaus. Initial funding has been ensured with the help of Italian and German Jesuits. Now it is a matter of securing funds for the long-term institutional development of this new-born. As Fr Roberto Jaramillo SJ, coordinator of SARES, puts it ?It is a pleasure to be able to introduce this new infant as it walks. Now it needs help and affection from us all, its relatives, friends and fellow travellers?. [HL40701] Fr Roberto Jaramillo SJ, Serviço de Ação, Reflexão e Educação Social ? Manaus, jaramosj@hotmail.com