The indigenous Macuxi people today number around 15,000 and approximately two thirds currently live in the Amazon area of northern Brasil, close to the frontier with Venezuela and Guyana. The remaining third live in Guyana itself. The Macuxi came into contact with the European colonial powers for the first time in the 18th-century. Over the course of time they were enslaved by landowners and forced to work in the rice fields and in the mines. In return they were introduced to cheap alcohol, leaving many of them addicted and causing great harm to their traditional village and family life.
The Catholic Church has been present in this region since the beginning of the 20th century. The missionaries have stood by the Macuxi and helped them to escape their difficult plight. By inculcating the Gospel values they have helped the people to say no to alcohol, to refrain from violence in the event of conflicts and to extricate themselves from their slavery to the big landowners. Needless to say, these landowners have been less pleased by this and as a result there has been some violence, even to the extent of some mission stations being burned down in recent years.
(Children of the Macuxi indigenous people live in a very remote part of the Amazon area in northern Brazil © Aid to the Church in Need)
Meanwhile, some of their traditional lands have once again been restored to the ownership of the Macuxi people. But now they face new challenges, with the spread of fundamentalist sects and attempts to induce the people into consuming alcohol once again. The church and the tribal elders are concerned above all for the children and young people.
In order to implant the Gospel values early into the hearts of the children, the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is in the process of translating its Child‘s Bible called ‘God speaks to his Children’ into the Macuxi language. For almost 40 years now this little book of Bible stories with the bright red cover has been a worldwide hit, and has already been translated into over 170 languages, in a total print run of over 50 million copies. Now 10,000 copies are to be printed in the Macuxi language so that the children, young people and even the adults, who otherwise have no Bibles, can read the beautifully illustrated Bible stories in their own language and so allow the Gospel message to penetrate and form their hearts. ACN is helping with a grant of $13,000.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929