Misson Statement (even though Al passed on)
I, Alphonse M. Gerwing, do liaison work for Canadian based
NGO's (Non-Government Organizations) with their partners
in the State of Alagoas, in Brazil's Northeast.
The Northeast of Brazil is a vast area of "miseria" where the great majority (a mix of black, American native, and white people) are landless and, when forced off the land because an owner mechanized or turned from sugar cane to raising cattle - are homeless. They are in the main, illiterate and are excluded from the political, social and economic life of the numerically small middle class elite.
The NGO's on whose behalf I work are:
- Rainbow of Hope for Children
- Peace & Development
My work is two-fold;
- In Alagoas, I receive the request of the three “movimentos”
with which I work, asses them, and pass them on to the NGO.
If the NGO accepts them as a viable project it develops them into
a proposal to present to C.I.D.A. -
Canadian International Development Agency.
Periodically, I visit the projects in Brazil to monitor progress and receive projects progress reports for the NGO and C.I.D.A.
- In Canada, (Western Canada) and in Germany (Rhineland – Westphalia), I do fund-raising for the projects and general social justice education. I also arrange visits from our project partners to Canada and take Canadians to Alagoas as means of expressing solidarity and forging close bonds of friendship and collaboration.
The three movimentos which I work in Alagoas are:
This is the States’ principal land reform organization. It currently has nearly 200 affected communities; some of them well along on the road to development (literacy, infrastructure, programs for women, re-forestation, water procurement and storage, health clinics, and one two room schools, etc.). Most however, are still totally bereft and need our support for some time to come.
For CEAPA we have funded many projects:
Truck, jeep, a headquarters in the Capital, Maceio; wells, desalinization, etc.
Ricardo Acuns, ex Director of Change for children will visit CEAPA, and all our Alagoas movimentos and their projects in June, 2000.
David Oke of CIDA’s small projects branch visited the projects with me in February of 1999 and was greatly Impressed.
In 1997 we had the president of CEAPA Genivaldo Viers Da Silva, come to Western Canada on speaking tour: Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Rosthern, Edmonton, Calgary, Pincher Creek, Humboldt discussing issues in Alagoas and hearing rural people from the Prairies analyzing their own situations.
- The Urban Homeless
Movimento, formerly known as Sem Tito (the homeless) it, too
now has a new name: The Struggle for Dwelling (site and material)
We have done many projects for them too, over the past eleven years: a headquarters (currently being enlarged to give them space for training courses and for micro-industry); the acquisition of sites and building material for five communities in the Capital and one in Colonia Leopoldina.
- Movimentos Meninos las da Rua – Mov. Of Boys & girls of the street.
- Here, too, we have done many projects. Some directly for the Alogan branch of this national movimento and others for individuals or small groups that tackle a local problem.
- Headquarters for Projeto Alternativo ( alternative that is, to the government’s way of incarceration; or society’s way, via the police, of eliminating them); street education projects, cultural and recreational projects; protection from police, etc.
- A school
– home – workshops for boys at Fundanaor in
Palmeria dos Indios.
In 20 years of retirement from teaching, Lourdes monteiro has built Fundanor into a blooming institution.
She is currently, with our help, setting up a Girls’ Town in her City to compliment this Boys’ Town. In 20 years of retirement she has raised 2000 of Brazil’s citizens.
- Project Thallitha – a consortium of small group sisterhood in Maceio, the Capital, is doing this work as rescue/rehab for girls in prostitution in the Capital.
- The Horta – (The Garden) a home/school on St. Rita’s Island for street kids who want to leave off vagabonding (it’s near the capital).
Though #3 and #2 take much of our time and resources, #1 is the
most urgent area of our attention and help, because the failure
to enact land reform is the principal cause of our Urban Slums
and children abandoned to the streets.
N.B. We brought Lourdes Monteiro to Saskatchewan for the premiere of the play The Angel of Alagoas, based on her life and her work with street children.
We are guilty of many errors and many faults,
But our worst crime is abandoning the children,
Neglecting the fountain of life.
Many things we need can wait.
The child cannot.