By Flavio Januario and Merel Meessen
CASA Brasil and GEN International connected at the 4-day peace gathering of Movimento Caminhos da Paz at the community of Aritagua in Bahia, Brazil in February. The peace gathering was organized by members of ABRASCA (Brasilian Association of Alternative Communities) and revolved around creating stronger connections between Brazilian ecovillages, by sharing seeds, knowledge, music and joy. The gathering itself was the result of a touching story of a father devoted to having his young daughter baptized by mother Amma.
After having met at the GEN Europe conference in Switserland in 2013, Flavio Januario of CASA Brasil and Merel Meessen of GEN International met at the peace gathering to strengthen ties within the global network. They exchanged experiences about their parts of the work within GEN’s global mission, and Flavio was able to relate about his participation in the December conference in Senegal. Further, Flavio invited several ecovillages present at the event to join the emerging network of CASA Brasil, thus steadily expanding the global network.
The gathering itself was the result of a beautiful story of parental love. The main organizer of the event, Sol, was the happy father of a second daughter named Flor da Amma (‘flower of love’). As a devotee of Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Mother Amma (the Indian saintly mother of hugs) he and his wife wished for their bright-eyed Flor to be baptized by their guru of hugs. However, they had no money to travel to India. In order to make their dream come true, Sol decided to organize the peace-gathering with ABRASCA, and was able to bring young Flor to Amma in India from the participant’s pre-paid ticket money.
During the gathering, a video was shown of Flor’s baptism in the arms of mother Amma not long before the gathering, which touched all participant’s hearts. “We made the gathering to make it possible to go to Amma, but going to Amma made this gathering possible,” said as smiling Sol, “by giving it the energy and power that it has.”
It must have been this primary intention that was the cause for the gathering’s infusion with youthful energy, as children were abundantly present and participating in all activities – including joining the reggae bands on stage with their wild dancing. No alcohol was present, and all food provided was purely vegan, in line with the philosophy of the Movimento Caminhos da Paz.
About 200 participants shared their knowledge through workshops around vegan food, (acro)yoga, natural cosmetics and more such eco-lifestyle topics, and through book sales on alternative living. Several communities brought collections of seeds to exchange and hand out, fostering genetic biodiversity. Music performances filled the evenings lit by the campfire and a full moon, and the local villagers demonstrated their capoeira skills.
Particularly inspiring was the video presentation of Tiba’ ecovillage (state of Rio de Janeiro) on their work with indigenous communities. Tiba’s expertise lies with bioconstruction, and as governmental housing programs are severely undermining the indigenous’ autonomy and culture, Tiba found a mission in supporting these communities by teaching new appropriate technologies of bioconstruction, with the materials traditionally used by the indigenous themselves. This sharing of skills and knowledge empowers the communities, while providing eco-housing appropriate to the desires of the time.
In summary, the gathering of Movimento Caminhos da Paz in Bahia was a joyful event strengthening the bonds between the members of ABRASCA, CASA Brasil and GEN International. The ripple effects of this happening are bound to be strengthening the Brazilian ecovillage movement, and may indeed carry the loving power of mother Amma. And all this thanks to a simple dream of a father wishing to baptize his little bright-eyed Flor da Amma.