The diocese of Humaità is situated in northwest Brazil, in the state of Amazonas. It covers a vast area of over 53,000 square miles (almost 136,000 km²) – larger than Greece, but sparsely populated with only 135,000 inhabitants. Around 55,000 of these people are concentrated in the city of Humaità itself, while the rest for the most part live in small settlements bordering the rivers and lakes of the Amazon region.
On the one hand, there are many people who are migrating to the cities and towns, where above all the suburban townships are swollen with an influx of people from rural areas, and also people from other countries of Latin America, such as Haiti and Venezuela. This presents huge challenges for the pastoral mission of the Church and numerous social problems. At the same time, however, there are still many Catholics left behind in the small jungle settlements on the riverbanks and lakeshores. They are widely known as “Ribeirinhos“, or “shore dwellers“.
These Ribeirinhos continue to live their traditional lifestyle, which is becoming more and more difficult, however. For contact with the modern world is causing them to lose the sense of their cultural identity, while at the same time they are confronted with other problems, such as the logging of the rainforest and land grabs by large landowners. On top of this, the pandemic has not only seen many people in the Amazon region fall sick and even die, but has also brought still greater poverty. For with tourism drying up, they have no one to whom to sell their produce – for example, their traditional handmade artifacts – and have consequently lost a major source of income. As a result, their already precarious situation has been still further undermined by the pandemic.
The Church too has been affected by the increasing poverty. Not only are there more people needing help in their material and spiritual needs, but at the same time a major source of income in the form of the Sunday collection has likewise dried up. The priests, religious, and deacons working in the diocese urgently need our help. Their bishop has appealed to us. „This request is an urgent cry for help“, he writes, „since our current income is not enough to support the priests, religious and deacons working in the diocese.“
And so we are proposing to step in, with a contribution of 11,460 Euros for the 17 religious sisters and the two permanent deacons working in the diocese and with Mass stipends for the four priests, and the bishop himself, to a value of 8275 Euros. This help will benefit not only the immediate recipients but will be an important contribution to helping them to support the people whom they have been sent to serve, especially at this critical time.