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Guyana Jesuit pays educational visit to Brazil

(JESUITS IN BRITAIN) Jesuit priest of the Guyana Region has recently returned from a fact-finding visit to Brazil, where he was able to explore educational opportunities for indigenous Guyanese.

Fr Ronnie Fernandes SJ was accompanied by the Executive Coordinator of Fe y Alegria in Paraíba (eastern Brazil), Fr Sérgio José SJ, when he visited Tocantins, a state in central Brazil. They were exploring ways in which the Jesuits in Guyana can begin Fe y Alegria projects which will strengthen their contribution to education, especially among indigenous communities.

Fr Fernandes, who is involved in Pastoral Ministries in the Rupununi (southern Guyana), had gone to Brazil to experience for himself the cultural and educational initiatives which are taking place within the indigenous Xerente community, located in the central Brazilian state of Tocantins. He and Fr José toured the facilities of Fe y Alegria and saw how it carries on its work with the Indigenous people of this region. Then, to enrich their experience, they stayed in the village of Sato Kripre and took part in various cultural activities of the Akwe people, sharing jokes and stories with the Xerente people.

Local history and culture

Their host in Sato Kripre was the village chief, Valci Sinan, who pointed out interesting historical and geographical information about the indigenous community that lives there. The village elders then explained the organisation and planning of daily activities for the people. Before they left, they were presented with craft items made from “golden grass”, while the students from the Fe y Alegria project gave a beautiful musical performance on the saxophone and guitar.

Fe y Alegria (meaning ‘Faith and Joy’) is an educational initiative founded by Chilean Jesuit Fr José María Vélaz SJ with collaborator Abraham Reyes more than 50 years ago. Its aim now as then is to provide education for marginalised groups and it now operates in 13 countries in Latin America, helping young people to grow in knowledge, skills and value.

Guyana has been a Region of the British Province since the Jesuits arrived there in 1857, serving the Catholic Church and the people in all parts of this beautiful, remote and oft-forgotten South American country.