Brazil – Walking for Peace

Brazil – Walking for Peace

Sr. Jacinta Ugonma Mahakwe MMM

We live in a world filled with lots of deprivations of basic human needs – food, water, clothing and shelter. These must be satisfied in order to address more complex needs like mental and physical health, relationships and employment. Growing up to adulthood in the neighbourhood of Nordeste de Amaralina in Salvador, Brazil, is more of a miracle. The neighbourhood had experienced violent deaths of a lot of young people related to drugs, domestic and police brutality over the years. Those who experience or witness violence may develop a variety of problems including anxiety, depression, insecurity, anger, poor social skills, pathological lying, manipulative behaviour, impulsiveness and lack of empathy.

The returns on investing in human relationships could avert a lot of damages and bring healing in an environment endemic with violence. A few years back, the Medical Missionaries of Mary Sisters and their staff at Project Consolation in Salvador, Brazil, carried out “Peace walk” in the neighbourhood. This was done in collaboration with some primary and secondary schools in the area in conjunction with the support of the police force. Over three hundred school children with their teachers, some parents/grandparents took to the streets in a peaceful march accompanied by music, calling everyone to embrace the healing beauty of peace and end violence. The young school students shared sweets, colourful flowers, and balloons with the onlookers as symbols of love to demonstrate their quest for peace, with glowing smiles. The walk lasted for one hour and there was a feeling of tranquillity that hovered in the air through the whole period and beyond. With trust and anticipation, mothers, fathers, young people trooped out one after the other in support of this invitation to foster a culture of peace in the neighbourhood. Peaceful coexistence is a healing beauty. What is more healing than the face of a young child saying “friends, our young life matters, we want peace, we want to live”.

With the appropriate technique and approach, almost every behaviour and issue can be resolved by dealing with the root causes. The Medical Missionaries of Mary continue to engage with young people and adults in activities focused on behavioural change and trauma management. These include Coexistence / Well-being Workshops and Integrative Body Therapy. Integrative Body Therapy is a helpful approach of treatment for a range of concerns such as somatization, depression, anxiety, relationship concerns, and the effects of past trauma. It looks at the relationship between the body and mind. For many people expressing what they feel through oral language is very difficult, almost impossible in some cases. Through a body language/expression a scream can be heard, seen, released, and welcomed.

“The body speaks”. This self-care activity awakens in the participants an understanding that caring for oneself prompts one to care for the other. When we expand our range of care, it becomes a collective benefit – a healthy and peaceful environment.