The Sertão

Did you ever wonder what the Sertão actually is? Find here an article taken from Wikipedia explaining what the Sertão is.

The other Brazil

Here is an article Compassion Canada published this summer about the poverty in Brazil. Check it out and read here their whole magazine.

Compassion has been ministering in Brazil since 1987, primarily in the cities along the southeastern coast, such as Rio de Janeiro. But our church partners there started noticing something wonderful: There were fewer and fewer children in their neighbourhoods who needed to be sponsored. Parents were becoming able to provide for their own children. And even for the poor in southeastern Brazil, there are now more opportunities to escape poverty because of solid infrastructure, government programs and various schooling opportunities. So beginning in 2010, a major shift happened. Compassion child development centres in southeastern Brazil began closing their doors, the churches now able to minister to the children on their own. In fact, only 13 centres remain in the south of Brazil, all ministering in the poorest favelas, or slums, of Rio de Janeiro.
In the northeast, there is an entirely different reality.
Visitors to the southern capital of Brazil, São Paulo, are stunned by its seemingly endless number of skyscrapers. Visitors to the poorest state in the northeast of Brazil, Maranhão, are also stunned.
>> read the full article about Brazil here >>
>> read through the whole magazine from Compassion here >>

Article written by Compassion Canada

Where is the Sertão?

Where is the Sertão? On this picture you can see the northeast of Brazil in orange and right in the middle of it you find the Sertão. 

A reflection on the Survival Trek

by Tashona Bannister

In September of 2012, a group of 14 individuals set out on the journey of a life time, through the Serra Das Confusões, the very interior of Piauí, Brazil, also known as the Sertão. Here we spent 10 days walking through the desert, visiting villages, sharing the Gospel, and experiencing the difficulties that the people of the Sertão are facing. At the beginning of our trek through the desert, we too some time to become familiarized with the interior, making quick stops in São Raimundo Nonato, Caracol, and other smaller cities. While we were in São Raimundo Nonato, we were able to tour a Jam Factory, where we learned the difficulties that the people of the Sertão are facing. We learned that the factory is barely making ends meat, because there is no water in the area, therefore making production seem almost impossible. A lot of families had been moving from their interior villages to work in this factory, but because there is no water, there is no work. Last year the rainy season didn't produce enough rain to replenish streams, and rivers, and this year, water sources are drying up.
After a few days spent in Caracol, we sent out as a team of 2 donkeys, 9 Swiss, 4 Brazilians, and 1 Canadian and we began our journey. The first day we hiked roughly around 15 km to the first village, Agua Brava. That first day was the hardest day of hiking in the heat, because we didn't take a break for Siesta, so by the end of the day I was a bit tired and red. (No one really knows what the temperature got up to in the desert, but when we looked in the evening at the thermometers after it had cooled down, they were always high 30's, so we assume that in the direct sun, it was probably over 50 degrees). Originally we had only planned to stay at the first village for 2 nights, but instead we stayed 3 nights. From what I could understand, Agua Brava had never heard the gospel before, and there was no church there. There was one Christian there, who had 3 wives (so we're not sure that he understood what being a Christian meant). That first night when we got there, there were kids all around, seeing who we were, and what we were all about. We grabbed a ball, and we did what THEY know best, we played a game of soccer. After dinner, we held a small "church service" in the local school, mostly to explain what we were there for, and what we were going to be doing. At that first service, there were more children than adults there, and not all. The next few days I spent the morning at the school helping with children's lessons. We would do various lessons on creation, dental hygiene, having a clean heart through our Saviour Jesus, teaching them different songs, as well as doing some different crafts. Ursula (a missionary here in Brazil) usually led the lesson, or Lucineide (a Brazilian missionary), and another Ursula, and I helped.
In the afternoons, after lunch, we'd go back to school for the second session to help with another lesson. This time it was the older kids, so we tried doing things that were a bit more difficult. The only problem was that it wasn't easier for them. The children aren't getting the adequate education they need, because some of the teachers aren't as educated as they should be so a lot of the older kids aren't more advanced than the younger ones. It was a huge reality check to see the education that these kids are getting. They are sitting in desks that are falling apart, and they only are going to school for 2 hours a day.
After the afternoon session, Joel, an intern in Brazil, and I would have "Kids Time". This I think was the kids favourite part of the day, because there was always what seemed to be a million kids there. It was hard to teach the kids games, because one; only Joel could explain the games in Portuguese, and two; because there were so many kids it was hard to communicate directions for all of them, and three; because the kids don't understand basic instructions all that well. It was difficult, especially because I couldn't help explain the games using words, so when they didn't understand basic instructions from Joel, my explanation using hand motions weren't any easier for them.
It was really difficult for me to leave the first village. I made a huge connection with some of the kids, and I really didn't want to say goodbye. Being there made me realize that I want to do more for kids like these. Not only do they not know Jesus, but they also don't know how to do basic things like reading and writing. Seeing the desks they are sitting in, and the notebooks they're writing in made me want to do more. I can't do more right now, except for continue to pray for them, but I can work towards doing more for them. Being in that first village definitely opened my eyes to what work I can do, and what kind of work that I want to do.
After the second village, we again set out on our journey to hike the rest of the way through the desert. It was a difficult time, mostly because of the heat, but also because after a full morning of walking, you're exhausted, and after siesta, you don't want to continue on walking, but we had too. There were a couple of days in a row where we walked almost all day, the only breaks we took were siesta times, and then continued hiking into the night. No one knows for sure how far we walked, some say we walked 50 km, some say 80 km, but we didn't make it all the way to the end. We had to stop early because of the heat, and because we were all sore and extremely tired.
This was definitely 10 days that I will never forget. It was an amazing experience, one that was not only amazing, but difficult at the same time. I had to battle the heat, and physical pains from walking, as well as trying to be positive for kids, and for the group.
Seeing the Sertão and learning the problems that the people of the Sertão are facing really made me realized what a blessed country I live in, where heat is not an issue, where a lack of water isn't permitting people from supporting their families, and where I have access to the connect with other Christians at the drop of a hat. These last 10 days are days that I am never going to forget, not only because of the trials that we went through, but also because of the reality that I saw, and the reality of life where Christ isn't as know.