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Casa Velha, from Heart to Earth

By Nicole Forestell, Youth Representative for Eastern Ontario

Laura Munevar (left) and Nicole Forestell, Development and Peace youth representatives, at Casa Velha camp, in Portugal.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to go to the Casa Velha camp, in Portugal, hosted by CIDSE for their Change for the Plant, Care for the People campaign. I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity. During our time there all together, we were able to focus on reconnecting with the land, with people, and with ourselves. The week included spiritual time, reflections and a pilgrimage to Fatima. We also had teams to work on the land, where we were given the opportunity to reconnect with nature through labour. The teamwork included gardening, digging a trench to water the gardens, and clearing cork trees and brush.

We also had talks from guest speakers, which I loved. There was an International Development professor, a farmer and a Jesuit priest. I found the farmer especially interesting because of my background of growing up on a farm. He talked about eco-literacy, which involves getting to know the dynamics of an ecosystem in order to live in harmony with it. It helped highlight some things to think about and how to improve the systems my family has in place on our farm.

During this week at camp, one quote stood out to me the most. It is that “alone we go faster, but together we go farther.” It reminds me of the impact that efforts by groups such as those at Casa Velha and Development and Peace can have. Though personal efforts are much needed as well.

This experience has helped me to see how far we have the potential to go. There are people, youth especially, that are passionate about making a positive impact on our planet. In the news, we see so much negativity about the direction our planet is going in and how we are reaching the point of no return. But seeing and getting to know this group at Casa Velha gave me hope. There are ways to turn things around and people that are willing to put in the work. All it takes is one good person to restore hope. We can restore this hope by living a life worthy of being an example. We make change by living and doing, not by preaching. There are so many ways to make changes in each of our lives to help the movement. This could include not buying fast fashion anymore, carpooling when possible, restricting consumption of single-use plastics, reducing consumption of animal products and so much more.

This week was a great reminder to live joyfully, mindfully, committed and attentive, and in communion, and I look forward to continuing to grow in these principles.

If you are interested in learning more about youth programs and activities at Development and Peace, please contact Selina Hunt, Youth Programs Officer, at shunt@devp.org.

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