Speaker for 11th February 2020
Coleraine Probus takes a look at Brazil
The speaker for a recent club meeting was John Logan, who will shortly be journeying to Brazil with his wife Phyllis. The trip would not be for a holiday, but rather their 25th working visit to the country, as part of the couple's involvement with the "South American Missionary Society“ (SAMS), where the two would be there 'working with, and helping people to help themselves.
But first, John gave us some history. The Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, and the Empress of Brazil, Thereza Christina Maria visited Ireland in 1877 as part of their 'Grand Tour'. They paid a five-day visit here from 7-11 July that year, visiting six locations including Belfast, Portrush and 'the Giants Causeway'. This must have made some impression on the Royal couple, for on their return the town Itaperuçu, in the Brazilian South Western province of Paraná was beginning to be formed. Coincidentally, it was to Itaperuçu, that John and Phyllis were destined to make that long journey from the Causeway area so many times. Why coincidentally? Well, the name Itaperuçu in the Brazilian indigenous 'Guaraní' language means literally "to make the big path of the rock", or in other words, "The Giants Causeway".
The Emperor and Empress of Brazil, 1877
John's first association with Brazil came in 1993 with a talk in St. Patrick's Church given by The Rev. Gordon Whitehead who had just returned from South America, having spent seven years working with SAMS. This experience was to involve the Logan family in a series of short-term working/missionary trips to Brazil guided by SAMS. Late in February, John and Phyllis will embark on their journey, arriving in Sao Paulo International Airport before travelling on to the missionary centre at Monte Horebe.
While there, John will teach the children at the Mission School and Phyllis will be involved with the finances for the 'sponsored children scheme'. The financial support comes from local cross community groups in the UK and Ireland. That support is certainly needed, for over 30% of Brazilians live in poverty. There is however, an encouraging 40% growth in the 'middle class' community - people that have been helped to help themselves!
In Itaperuçu, the SAMS project has managed to get local Doctors and Dentists work one day per week voluntarily with the disadvantaged. They have built and equipped a dentist clinic and have converted a bus to become a mobile doctors surgery that tours the wider area treating the sick and injured. Education is of vital importance, especially to a higher level. For the first time since the project began, this year there are seven local graduates, that are to be employed by the Mission, and it is hoped that they will be the leaders of the future.
The new Dental Clinic
A community centre has been built in Itaperuçu, with money gifted by St. Patricks Church here in Coleraine. This, together with a community kitchen, has been development and supervised by local Causeway businessman Arnold McLean. With the growth of the middle class, it is hoped that they will eventually be able to provide the financial support to run these vital social services.
John emphasised that the aim of the Mission is to help people to help themselves, making them more employable, not to take jobs in the big cities, but rather encouraging them to stay in their own area for the benefit of everyone in that area. As John said, the Gospel can be proclaimed not only in words but also in actions.
To take a look at a few more of John's photos from visits to Itaperuçu, and a few extra snippets of information, just 'Click' the Brazilian flag below.
Many thanks to Graham for his help with this report