Thursday, January 31
As the youth of UMAVIDA wandered the exhibit hall, observing the photo reports taken by their peers, one could feel the energy of the exchange of experiences and the curiosity and knowledge that it created. UMAVIDA (Uniendo Manos por la Vida, “Joining Hands for Life”) is the Bolivian Joining Hands network, one of 10 Joining Hands networks of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, which works with religious and secular community groups to address root and systemic causes of hunger, poverty, and injustice. As water is an ever-pressing issue in Bolivia, whether the concern is about contamination, access, or treatment, UMAVIDA’s mission is to advocate and build awareness about water issues.
UMAVIDA believes that youth are uniquely placed to advocate for justice within God’s creation. For this reason, it held a Water School, focused on water rights, which led to a photo report contest with the theme “Poverty and Contamination.” Twenty-one youth from partner organizations participated, portraying the realities of the theme within their regions. Many photos displayed water contamination from mining industries or littering, including photos of the communities that live in these situations.
The energy of these youth reminds us that Jesus called us to give abundantly to restore God’s creation. We are called to be in communion with all of creation and to remember that any part of that creation, young or old, can teach us the importance of the abundance of love and justice among us.
“Agua es Vida” (Water is Life) is a common phrase spoken in Bolivia. It not only comes from the lips of elders, but those of youth too, who know their future could be in danger if this most precious element is not conserved. The youth of UMAVIDA have spoken this truth through a contest of photo journalism, demonstrating their realities of ‘Poverty and Contamination’ in their regions. Their cries did not stop at the contest and subsequent exhibition, though. They continued to spread the word of their fears and hopes by displaying their photos in Environmental Fairs throughout the year. These fairs gave the youth the opportunity to share with the public the issues of their regions, which are often unspoken and unknown, and to be the voice for environmental justice, advocating for life abundant for all of God’s Creation.
—Chenoa Stock, PC(USA) mission co-worker, La Paz, Bolivia
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) People in Mission
Chenoa Stock, facilitator for Joining Hands for Life Network (UMAVIDA)
Independent Presbyterian Church in Bolivia: Rev. Augusto Mamani, president • Joining Hands for Life Network (UMAVIDA): Wilhelm Pierola, president, Clotilde Loza Q., coordinator
Presbytery Partnerships: Presbytery of San Francisco and Presbytery of the Cascades, with Joining Hands for Life Network (UMAVIDA)
Let us pray
God of justice and love, may we ever be reminded of your call for abundant giving to your creation, though we be short of resources or energy. May youth be our reminder that all is possible in communion—of speaker with listener, of giver with receiver. Amen.