«Our body is our territory; our belly is our temple; our veins are our rivers». This is how Hamangai Pataxo – a young Brazilian student and spokesperson for an indigenous community that is on the frontline of the fight against deforestation in the Amazon – tried to explain the relationship that binds native peoples to their land. Her voice is supported not only by her people but also by several organizations, such as the “Scholas Occurrentes” Pontifical Foundation.
This fruitful “listening” to earth’s and man’s cries has inspired the Foundation to launch an educational program for the reforestation of the Amazon, through awareness-raising and education for young people. Almost 450,000 schools are involved in the Scholas.social platform, whose purpose is to bring together educational institutions from around the world through the exchange of experiences, cooperation and the sharing of educational projects: the aim is to foster the culture of encounter, also through the use of technology.
«Indigenous peoples, resilient local populations and institutions that protect nature are examples we want to learn from», Scholas educators explain. «They are the ones who, over time, have managed to preserve the diversity of nature and lifestyles, respecting its balance but also its role as a producer of wealth, limiting its exploitation to a minimum».
Hence, not only each educational institution is asked to contribute to the Amazon reforestation by planting at least 10 trees, but they are also asked to introduce teaching programs in which students are involved in activities aimed at re-establishing a proper relationship between humanity and the Biosphere, following the example of the native populations of the Amazon; other activities include training and sharing between schools (exchanges between students, teachers and experts).
Scholas’ educators added: «Pope Francis has suggested to develop educational processes based on our mind, heart and hands. According to this methodology, within the framework of the call that is part of “Laudato Si”, our mind is connected to our moral conscience whereby we pursue, develop and apply knowledge; our heart is connected with Creation, our neighbors and the Transcendent dimension; our hands are connected to the need for practical action, which can connect human activity to its responsibilities».
Every school joining this project is also expected to engage in networking, to encourage the participation of civil society, other institutions at all levels, including scientific research institutes and possibly, national and international institutions.