The “Beloved Amazon”

Sr Dora Cecilia Ramos shares her passion for the splendour, drama, and mystery of this great biome as she tells us about her invitation to speak in a roundtable on environmental ecology at the 2022 International Book Fair in Bogota.

In the context of the International Book Fair FILBo in Bogota at the end of April, I was invited as a Daughter of Jesus to participate in a roundtable entitled “Environmental Ecology, listening to the Amazon“. In the invitation to the fair, it said, “In the hope of meeting each other again.” After two years of confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, places where we can socialize, are opening up so allowing us to return to normal and share our lives again. This was reflected in the multitude of people who attended this year’s event.

My commitment to caring for our “common home”

As a Daughter of Jesus, I have been committed to Laudato si and the care of our “common home” in the Amazonianterritories and beyond since 2014 and have worked to generate awareness and occasions for formation. It was an honour therefore, to be invited and to represent the Congregation at this international event.

It was also an honour to be able to present the fruit of the reflection of many since the Post-Synod Exhortation Dear Amazoniaof 2020 where Pope Francis recognises:

“the participation of many people who know better than myself or the Roman Curia the problems and issues of the Amazon region, since they live there, they experience its suffering, and they love it passionately.” (Querida Amazonia no 3)

The need for an integral ecology

I maintain that our mission and charism are still relevant today where we can Honour the Humanity of Jesus in the context of an integral ecology which means, as Dear Amazonia says, always keeping in mind the interrelation between natural ecology, that is to say, respect for nature, and human ecology. Taking care of people and caring for the ecosystems are inseparable.

The Amazon is a multi-national and interconnected whole, a great biome shared by nine countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela, and the Territory of French Guiana. However, the Pope invites all of us to enter into this Exhortation.

“I am doing so to help awaken their affection and concern for that land which is also “ours”, and to invite them to value it and acknowledge it as a sacred mystery. But also, because the Church’s concern for the problems of this area obliges us to discuss, however briefly, a number of other important issues that can assist other areas of our world in confronting their own challenges.”(no 5)

Working with others to raise awareness

As the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus, we have publicly declared our commitment to raise awareness in the environments where we operate and to participate with other people in actions to denounce abuses of the environment and of people in vulnerable situations. In this way we can ratify the call that Pope Francis makes to us when he tells us:

“Our dream is that of an Amazon region that can integrate and promote all its inhabitants, enabling them to enjoy “good living”. But this calls for a prophetic plea and an arduous effort on behalf of the poor. For though it is true that the Amazon region is facing an ecological disaster, it also has to be made clear that “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”. We do not need an environmentalism “that is concerned for the biome but ignores the Amazonian peoples”.” (no 8)

When words become actions

The care of people and of the ecosystems are therefore inseparable; this becomes particularly significant where, “the forest is not a resource to be exploited, it is a being, or various with which we have to relate.” (no42).

We have embarked upon this task as Daughters of Jesus here in Villavicencio, allying ourselves with others such as the NGO? Bottles of Love. This NGO promotes the collection of single-use plastics, which are normally discarded, in bottles. These are then recycled to make “plastic wood“. It is an easy but effective way to contribute to the care of the environment.

Little by little we are generating awareness and actions together and with others which are coherent with what we say to each other at every meeting.

 

A call to us all

I encourage all my Sisters, the people I work with, and the Associates of the Congregation to follow this path of integral ecology and those who can, to enrol in formations such as the online diploma course Listening to the Amazonwhich will be launched in its second version on May the 17th, 2022.

This diploma course is being supported and financed by the International Fund of the Daughters of Jesus, in partnership with Paulina Edhumani, Pastoral and Social Care, Region South-east and the Daughters of Jesus in Colombia.

Sr Dora Cecilia Ramos Castañeda

Daughters of Jesus, Colombia

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