Last June I had the privilege to participate in the general assembly of COMPARTE in Guadalajara, Mexico. The meeting brought together 60 people from more than 10 countries in Latin America as well as Canada and Europe. COMPARTE, which means “to share,” is at the heart of this network of 15 Jesuit economic development organizations and social centres. CJI supports COMPARTE as they accompany productive associations in the local implementation of economic initiatives while sharing knowledge and generating new strategies. At the end of the workshop, they asked each of us to plant a seed, to symbolize what we had done in our meeting and our hope for the future. It reminded me of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s prayer: “We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.”
That small, but significant gesture, summarizes for me the work of CJI this past year. The highlights of our work which we present in this issue of our newsletter represent some of the seeds that we have planted through our partnership with so many Jesuit initiatives in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Some have fallen on fertile ground such as providing education and a window to a new future to children of estate workers who would otherwise be condemned to working from generation to generation as indentured labourers. Other seeds have fallen on uncertain and dangerous ground, like defending human rights violations in Honduras. The members of our partner Radio Progreso-ERIC risk their lives in a context where war and conflict seem to continue unabated, despite their courageous work. And we continued to plant seeds with people and communities, especially youth across Canada who participated in our workshops, attended our events and committed themselves to work for a world of justice and peace.
In our cover article Jebamalai Stanislaus SJ tells us how through the initiative Lok Manch, Dalits, Adivasis (Indigenous people), women and other people living in poverty and at the margins of society organize, defend human rights and create space for social change. By so doing they have brought hope and inspired confidence in marginalized communities that another world is possible.
As with Lok Manch, in all the initiatives CJI supports, we are guided by a commitment to the people who live in the margins of society. It is from margins “where people cling to the life that is taken from them” as Fr. Melo from Honduras recently said, that a new vision of society is born, one based on just relations with one another and with the earth.