Let’s Save the Heart of the Earth

Stand in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia this World Indigenous Day

Salvemos el corazon del Mundo poster (002)


To commemorate World Indigenous Day, we ask you to join a week of solidarity (2-9th August 2020) with the indigenous peoples of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.

Who are the Indigenous Peoples of the Sierra Nevada and what are they fighting for?

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a mountain range on the Caribbean coast in northern Colombia. For the Indigenous peoples who have lived there for centuries, this natural ecosystem is sacred and represents the Heart of the Earth.

As a result of mining and other large-scale extraction projects, the Heart of the Earth and its guardians – the Arhuaco, Wiwa, Kankuamo and Kogui Peoples – are at risk of being physically and culturally destroyed. Indigenous communities have been forced to abandon their homes due to these projects and the armed conflict and now live in the most challenging parts of the hills. Despite being displaced and facing threats, the indigenous communities are determined to protect their sacred ancestral land. Their ancestral territory recognised as a sacred site in the The Línea Negra decree is currently at risk from a lawsuit that has been filed against the decree, meaning indigenous communities may lose their ancestral territories permanently.

As well as the threats their land, these communities have also been struggling with droughts and forest fires in the area which have made it very difficult to grow enough crops to feed their families. The strict coronavirus quarantine has also meant that communities have been unable to go out to sell their handicrafts, coffee and other agricultural products to earn an income.The continued illegal extraction of gold and other materials during the pandemic puts indigenous communities at great risk of contracting the virus. Food and water supplies are now dangerously low, and people are facing a crisis point.

How can you show solidarity? We invite all CAFOD staff and supporters to do one of the following:

Record a video on their phone holding the Heart of the Earth poster (attached) and answer the following questions:

  1. Where are you? (e.g community, city, country etc).
  2. Why it is important to support the indigenous people of Sierra Nevada in their fight to protect the Heart of the Earth? (e.g to reduce climate change, take care of our common home, care for rivers, water, for the life of the planet….) (Optional Why is this important for you/ your community?
  3. Finish by saying, “Salvemos el Corazón del mundo” or “Let’s Save the Heart of the Earth”.

Take a selfie photo with the Save the Heart of the Earth poster. Landscape photos are best.

Make your own poster with the hashtag #SalvemosElCorazónDelMundo (Let’s Save the Heart of the Earth/World in Spanish) and take a selfie photo with your poster.


Upload video/photo/ or simply the Save the Heart of the Earth picture to your own social networks (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).


“From….. (add your community) in …… (add country) we stand alongside the indigenous people of Santa Marta de Sierra Nevada, Colombia. #SalvemosElCorazónDelMundo #WorldIndigenousDay @CAFOD @CINEP_PPP

Protecting Our Common Home

The Arhuaco, Wiwa, Kankuamo and Kogui believe that all the beings of this unique ecosystem are interconnected: land, sea, plants, animals, rocks, water, wind, fire, stones, minerals and that these must be protected to maintain balance and preserve our Common Home.

Through their ancestral wisdom, indigenous communities have looked after the unique and complex ecosystem of the Sierra Nevada which is recognised by UNESCO as vital for the life of our entire planet. Ecosystems like these are fundamental to balance the effects of climate change.

Their asks to the Colombian government:

  1. Respect the protection of the Heart of the Earth and the Línea Negra and implement the decree that recognises it.
  2. Stop any new applications for mining and other extractive activities that are destroying their ancestral territory, and withdraw all existing titles.

3.Put in place measures for healing and restoration of harmony in their territory.

World Indigenous Day

On 9 August we commemorate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Article 8 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture. 2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for: (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities; (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources; (c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights; (d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration; (e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.

Taunton Parishioner Doug Lowe shares CAFOD’s work with Churches Together in Mere, Wiltshire

St Therese parishioner Doug Lowe who has supported CAFOD for the past 25 years recently gave a CAFOD presentation about CAFOD’s work and Share the Journey. Doug who has managed CAFOD’s work at the Greenbelt Festival as one of his many volunteering roles for CAFOD, along with running many CAFOD events in and around Taunton, travelled to Mere for a Churches Together Annual General Meeting.

Continue reading

An International CAFOD Staff Event

Held by CAFOD Clifton in the Parish Hall, of St Bonaventure’s Church on
13th July 2016. CAFOD office volunteer Robert Muston shares his experience of the day.

It was hosted by Liz Baldwin, CAFOD Community Participation Co-ordinator for CAFOD Clifton who started the proceedings by giving a brief outline of the day.

Rachel McCarthy, CAFOD Head Office

Liz then handed over the event to facilitator Rachel McCarthy from CAFOD Head Office London who introduced the visiting speakers:


Dominic Carroll

Dominic Carroll CAFOD Country Representative for Bangladesh and Afghanistan, based at CAFOD head office in London, Romero House.

 Kayode Akintola


Kayode Akintola CAFOD Country Representative for Sierra Leone and Liberia based in  Freetown, Sierra Leone,

Conor Molloy


and Conor Molloy CAFOD Country Representative for Ethiopia, based in Addis Ababa.


SESSION 1This started with a prayer and a reading from St Luke’s Gospel 7: 36-50, where Mary Magdalen anoints the feet of Jesus.

Working at tables of 4-6 people we were asked when in our work with CAFOD, we had focussed time and attention on someone; and then when someone had focused time and attention on themselves?
In our discussions we found that we focus on whatever or whomever engages our sympathy in any circumstance of life and consideration of the issues of the time such as famine in Ethiopia, various environmental issues famines and modern day slavery.

Questions to the speaker

From the people we meet we get a taste of the hardships and feel motivated to help them to change things for themselves. As an antidote to the present materialism, abandonment of religious belief or its complete separation from daily life, the Pastoral Cycle becomes an important feature of any ‘development education’.


Before the 2 Group sessions there were short introductions from each of our CAFOD Visitors asking us when and how, in your work at CAFOD have you been challenged or stretched through an encounter or dialogue (e.g. in Laudato Si’)

A lot of this group session was concerned with what is happening now, particularly as much of this was well known from as long ago as the 1960s. Since then materialism has become increasingly widespread, along with the abandonment of a consideration for others. Increasingly the world’s resources have become available more to the affluent Western World at the expense of world’s poor.

The new proposed abandonment of the present Fair Trade movement is jeopardising the livelihoods of many who were benefitting from being able to sell their produce at a fair price, and receiving grants. A new version of ‘fair trade’ will again favour the large (multinational) companies who, with their version of fair trade, will remove the freedom of people to receive bonuses to spend as they think fit, according to their needs and the needs of the local communities. Sainsbury is a prominent party in this new movement!

Laudato Si’ challenges us to link the environmental, social and economic concerns to move to a development model that benefits all in every sphere of life.

Further ideas from our discussion.

Ethiopia – the dialogue with women empowers them to become integrated with the men, and vice versa, being able to share the concerns and work, each according to their abilities and expertise, and the circumstances. It might mean that men sometimes do more of the domestic work, sharing some or all the tasks.


People who are in development situations must continue, spend time thinking about the their particular needs and issues so that they may devise and promote a considered and just solution.

Group discussion

We learned of practices of forest clearance which often leads to a denudation of soil fertility. Such practices must change.  Here education is essential, and is provided through group study for local farmers, with CAFOD and other aid agencies.

For example – the problem of drainage into rivers, – where a river on its course gets more and more pollution from e.g. washing, sewage, waste food, pesticides, fertilisers. The solution is to dig wells, to get clean water from wells or water holes instead of a polluted disease-bearing river. Water-borne diseases are a common consequence.

The impact of on the people, and the environment, of wells and storage, also has to be assessed. It’s necessary to engage with communities and think through all the consequences, and dialogue with all who are affected by such developments.

Development Agencies were mentioned who are or could be in partnership with CAFOD, (a subset of the international agency Caritas International).