G8 – ending World Hunger

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Powering up smallholder farmers

As part of Fairtrade Fortnight, CAFOD have published a report which highlights five ways that smallholder farmers can be empowered.  The third way highlights the need for access to timely and affordable credit, which is the aspiration behind our Micro Loan scheme.

Powering up Smallholder Farmers to Make Food Fair

foodFairfocuses on the 500 million women and men who produce 70 per cent of the world’s food but who make up half the world’s hungry people. The report says that even when smallholder farmers are producing cash crops at the sharp end of lucrative international supply chains, the global food system still fails them.

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Time for the G20 to ACT

Oxfam are highlighting the Anti-Corruption Working Group (G20) that meets in Moscow today.

It’s estimated that there is $32 trillion sitting in tax havens globally which could raise $189 billion annually if it were taxable. Just $50.2 billion a year is the level of additional investment needed, combined with other policy measures, to end global hunger. In 2009, the G20 agreed to take action against tax havens secrecy by negotiating new transparent tax cooperation agreements.

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Brazil’s Marina Silva launches ‘sustainability party’

newPartyIn Brazil, a former presidential candidate and environment minister has launched a new political party, Sustainability Network, ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

In a speech to hundreds of supporters in the capital, Brasilia, Marina Silva stressed the party’s green credentials.

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Global Partnerships in action!

Longridge HighThe United Nations 2012 report on the Millennium Development Goals emphasised the need to develop stronger global partnerships if the world is going to achieve the poverty reduction targets by the year 2015.

Longridge High 2Through partnership working with Global Link Development Education Centre, Longridge High School and Volunteer in Brazil, bonds of solidarity and support are being developed between children in Longridge and families in rural Brazil.

Neto & MartinYoung people started by learning about the Millennium Development Goals in early 2012. In the summer of the same year they organised a Brazilian style carnival to raise money and now in February 2013 they are in the process of supporting Neto and his family (in the community of Panasco, in the interior of the state of Piaui) to build a chicken house where Neto and his family intend to rear chickens for sale. Martin, our Micro Finance Co-ordinator, is supporting Neto and will send regular updates and encourage dialogue with the community at Longridge High School.

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My Brazilian Family


Are you curious who is supporting VinB volunteers in Cristino Castro? Who is my Brazilian mum? Do you know how many Brazilian brothers and sister  I have? Let me introduce you to the family Lopes Mendes.

Dona Maroca is an amazing  lady who has brought up twelve children and has now taken me  into her home. She spends her time producing arts and crafts and looking after her many grandchildren, which now number more than thirty. Day by day I am getting to know them.

Her  house is very lively, often loud and almost always full of people; new faces every day.   One of my first tasks was to learn and memorise the names of her children. Can you imagine twelve quite difficult names plus the names of  their wives and husbands and of course,  all in the right birth order. I can proudly announce that I have succeeded.

Families in Brazil are very strongly bonded together and the Lopes Mendes  family is a great example, calling and visiting  each other frequently. They are caring, affectionate and supportive, the solidarity within the family is admirable especially when there is a problem.

Each family member treats me as a regular part of the clan, so suddenly I am a daughter, sister, niece, aunt and cousin… All in one. I always dreamt of being part of a big family and now I am very glad to be a part of this special family.


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Back to School

team meetingCarnival is finally coming to a close here which means that Projecto To Ligado will opening its doors for yet another year. We’re expecting 36 kids to turn up on Monday afternoon and they’ve got an exciting year planned out for them. A lot of familiar faces in the staff team and some new ones. There are the rocks, Beth and Monica, who provide the stability and experience that is so vital for the project. Claudia is back to keep on cooking, although now in the brand new kitchen that Dave and Shelagh slaved away on before Christmas. Beth’s son Gabriel will continue to work as a Monitor helping the kids on their school work. He is joined by Thais, who recently completed her teacher training course. It’s fantastic to have her as a new member of the staff as she was one of the earlier graduates from the project after spending 5 years at To Ligado. I actually remember teaching her when I first came out here as an 18 year old! Other returners include Mariana (Art) and Marina (Reinforco). Hockey continues to grow; the President of the Rio de Janeiro Hockey Club came to our staff meeting last week and brought with him a very enthusiastic, newly qualified hockey teacher. Perhaps the most exciting development is that Tom will be moving from teaching Music one day a week, to four. The goal over the next few months is to put together a To Ligado band and, at some point, perform to audiences. I think this a fantastic project in so many ways and will help keep the kids energised for their other lessons as well. Continue reading

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Grass fire still causing hardship


Placid contented looking cows; a far cry from the nervous, semi-wild cows that first arrived at the farm.

Despite the fact that the  vegetation is recovering  from  the  grass fire last spring. The unseasonable drought means that Miquel is facing the additional cost of finding and renting new pastures, as well as the cost of transporting the cattle.

Miquel bought his stock with the help of a Volunteer in Brazil Micro Loan, unfortunately these extra costs will  probably reduce his expected  profit margin.

It is challenges such as these, to the agriculturally dependent communities of North East Brazil, that are the main push factors in the migration of people from the rural areas.  Other factors include, issues of land ownership, the difficulty in obtaining small development loans and the lack of effective, cohesive, federal and state policies.

Hopefully, the light being shone on  issue of land ownership (called  ‘Land Grabs‘)  by the joint charities  campaign is a step towards raising awareness and public protest for policy change at national and international levels.

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Lending a hand with irrigation


Similde discussing Micro Loan project

Great excitement…we received the first micro loan application from Martin on behalf of Fabiana and Similde, a young couple  with two children who who live in Santana which is situated about 46km from Cristino.

For a number of years they have cultivated  vegetables to sell at the  Saturday market in Cristino and supplied  a local supermarket. However, production is limited because all the water used for  irrigating the plants has to be  carried in  watering  cans from a nearby well.

Fabiana and Similde  want to  install a mechanical  irrigation system which will save time and enable them to extend their vegetable plots. The loan will be used to purchase the equipment.  Martin is going to do a little research about the water supply and the cost of running the system.

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