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Farmers of Garzal and feeding the hungry

Dear Friends,
Imagine being told that the home you built, or were born in, or lived in all your life is no longer legally yours and that you must leave. Further imagine that all of your relatives and neighbors are being told the same thing, and that failure to leave will result in death. This is what is happening to the communities of Garzal.

These people are now being pressured by a former owner to abandon their farms. This former owner, a cocaine producer, is using paramilitaries to threaten them. Their leader, Salvador, who is a Pentecostal pastor and their school teacher, has asked us to accompany them in their struggle to get land titles and resist expulsion from land on which they grow cacao (chocolate), bananas, and yucca. These crops are their livelihood.

So, as a way of supporting them, a CPT delegation spent three days in Garzal. We followed this with a public witness action to raise awareness of the plight of these people. It was finalized with a letter that we signed to the government agency INCODER asking them to grant land titles to these long time residents according to Colombian law. More details on the history and plight of these people can be found at ……http://www.cpt.org/content/colombia-project the dispossessed.

Please take a moment to pray for the people of Garzal, and write a letter in support of the farmers of Garzal. There is a sample letter below.

Here is the Christian Peacemaker Team with the CPT delegation doing a public witness in front of the INCODER offices in Barranca, Colombia. INCODER is the government agency that issues land titles. Left to right, I am the fourth person, and the 11th person is my best friend on the team, Pierre. The 12th person is Jonathan who heads the feeding program described below. The banner says, “We ask INCODER to provide titles and security to the farmers of Garzal

Jonathan tells about the food program by saying, “We started when someone in our church said, ‘I have $15.00 I want to give to provide food for the hungry displaced people in our city of Bogota.’ Thus started a program for feeding the hungry that has expanded into providing 400 meals every Saturday evening. These meals go to homeless people with all kinds of problems such as drug addiction and mental problems. We have some 40 people who do this, including youth and displaced people.

Displaced people who are struggling to survive themselves have little they can share, so it is a real gift to them for it enables them to help others. It has revived our youth group. We have expanded into a house in which we provide 100 meals every day to needy children through volunteers. Whenever we need anything like chairs or tables, etc, it seems the Lord always provides. I see them as miracles. We bought a building and a business man is giving the gift of having it remodeled.” Jonathan Stucky is a CPTer on the Team and the grandson of the founder of the Mennonite Church of Colombia. This is an inspiring a story of some of God’s present activity.

The reason that you have not heard from me is that I have been in some turmoil. A prayer for me as the dust settles in my life would be appreciated.

Thanks be to God for all the lives that were helped by our presence in the last months.

Peace,

Jim

PS. Write a letter of support for the community of Garzal

Sample letter:
Queridas Comunidades de Garzal y Nueva Esperanza:

Mi nombre es ( your name ) y soy de ( Your city and state or province and country )

A través de los Equipos Cristianos de Acción por la Paz he conocido la situación de sus comunidades. Me parece muy valiente su lucha por sus tierras y por su vida campesina. Quisiera que sepan que sigo pendiente de su situación y me comprometo a seguir apoyándoles con oraciones u otras formas que nos podrían solicitar en el futuro.

Siempre en nuestras oraciones,

( Your Name ),

( Your Church or Organization )

We encourage you to add a sentence or two of your own to this letter, even if it is in English. You can also cut and paste this onto your church or organization’s letter head, or add a photo.

Your letter can be sent to the Colombia team via email or fax and we will deliver the letters to the community.

E-mail: cptco@cpt.org

Fax: 011-577-602-3617



Translation of the letter:
My name is _____________________ and I am from _______________________.

Through the work of Christian Peacemaker Teams I am aware of the situation of your community. Your struggle for your land and your rural lifestyle is valiant. I want you to know that I am following the situation and I am committed to support you through prayer and other actions that you may request in the future.

You are always in our prayers.

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