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April 2012

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In This Issue
Sea Sustains Community
Lace Makers of Brazil
Quick Links
Package of Algae
A market-ready package of dehydrated sea algae produced by the ACALMA Cooperative of Maceiˇ, Brazil. Algae is used in a variety of food products. Maceiˇ's packaged algae is gaining wider distribution to natural food stores and restaurants in northeastern Brazil.
Protecting Children
Continuing to build on the success of the Maceiˇ algae and lace making cooperatives is crucial to the lives of the community's children. Viable local industries help keep developers and luxury hotels at bay in impoverished regions of the world. Many resort developments are staging grounds for sex trafficking and sex tourism. Young people of impoverished families are easy prey.
Little girl on Brazilian Beach
Brazilian Beach Community Thrives on Faith, Cooperation and Ingenuity
Harvesting Algae in Brazil
Algae harvesters in northeastern Brazil gather around one of their cooperatively-owned fishing boats.
Thirty-three impoverished families in the tiny coastal settlement of Maceiˇ, Brazil, rely on algae harvesting and fishing for financial sustenance. Maceiˇ is a Christian Base Community -- a group of families that, by living and working together in accordance with the Gospel, liberate themselves from exploitation and minimizing effects of poverty.
For the past fifty years,  Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have empowered the people of Maceiˇ through Bible study, community organizing, educational programs, financial assistance and business savvy.
Establishing cooperatives such as the Association of Cultivators of Algae of Maceiˇ (otherwise known as "ACALMA") is part of the Sisters' strategy to help indigenous peoples prevent developers from seizing their rightful lands. Watch a 45-second clip of algae harvesting.


The Lace Makers of Brazil

Women making lace in Brazil Women in Brazil have been tatting or making lace for centuries. Before the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur helped the women of Maceiˇ organize into a cooperative, individuals sold their lace for a pittance to intermediary buyers. The intermediaries would then transport the women's handwork to city markets and export it overseas at an astronomical markup -- keeping all profits for themselves. The women's lace cooperative is now an autonomous organization, no longer relying on the Sisters' help.

Lace Heart from Brazil The Maceiˇ lace makers carry their threads, pins, bobbins and pillows to the beach, where they create their wares while guarding their community land from developers. As long as the community occupies its designated area of the beach, no one may trespass or seize the land for development. This means round-the-clock vigilance. Watch a 35-second clip of lace-making on the beach in Brazil.   

lace logo algae package The market-ready packages of dried algae include a logo of a lace fishing boat sailing atop lace-like waves. The design weaves together Maceiˇ's three main industries of fishing, algae harvesting and lace making. When systems are put in place so that impoverished people are valued and encouraged to participate in our larger sphere of economies, the entire world is stronger. Join forces with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and help us empower others to find their voice and live their hope.

In peace and gratitude,

Sister Leonore Coan 
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Congregational Mission Office