AMERICA/BRAZIL - Youth in the Amazon: a daily journey to access basic education

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Posted on: 03/18/18
São Gabriel da Cachoeira - Living within the Amazon means facing the difficulty of accessing basic education. Education is usually carried out in the communities themselves, where schools, in most cases, do not have the most basic requirements to meet teaching standards. As the courses progress, teenagers and young people are concentrated in larger communities, where it is not always easy to arrive. For many years the male and female boarding schools were famous in the Rio Negro region, where Salesian religious helped a large number of indigenous to study, often with excellent results.
Layla Line Garrido Melgueiro is a young Catholic from the indigenous Baré group, who lives in the community of São Francisco, municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Brazil. This community is situated on the banks of the Negro River, the only communication channel in the region.
Layla is 17, in her last year of high school, in the community of Tabocal dos Pereira, about 8 kilometers downstream. From Monday to Friday, the young girl moves in her little canoe, to take part in the lessons. As she says to Agenzia Fides, "it is not easy to study because we do not have a school in our community, and therefore we face a long journey every day.
We tolerate the rain, the strong waves, the canoe is small and we run the risk of sinking. It is very difficult to study like this". This is surprising if one takes into account the fact that, according to Brazilian laws, one of the conditions that must be guaranteed is the transportation of students to school.
As a consequence, as Layla says, "many people stop studying, because of the great difficulties, and do nothing". Faced with this reality, various problems arise, such as alcoholism, an increasingly worrisome situation in the indigenous world, especially for young people. The parish of São Sebastião de Cucui, in the diocese of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, together with the Nareirikury Baré indigenous school, is studying the possibility of building a permanent residence for students, so that young people can continue their studies, as this can contribute decisively to the future and development of the indigenous peoples of the region.
In view of the Synod of Bishops on Amazon, which will be celebrated in Rome in October 2019 and in which it is intended to seek new ways for the evangelization of the Church, it is necessary to reflect on the young people in the Amazon. Layla Melgueiro, who is also a member of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, tells Fides that "young people here are often far from the Church". Therefore, according to her, in relation to the youth of the Amazon, "the Church needs a more attentive and dynamic work of animation. It is necessary to find ways for young people to participate in the life of the Church", she concludes.


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