From Belo's cofounder Maria shares her thoughts on the Amazon Fires.
What we can do to take action for the Amazon.
The past weeks has been tough for all of us, but especially on me. Not only because I am Brazilian but because I spent my childhood in the middle of the Amazon jungle.
My heart is broken and it’s been hard to keep a positive attitude when you see that not only the “Lungs of the World” but also your childhood home has been burning away for weeks, causing so much pain for animals and natives.
Since I can remember, this time of the year is fire season for farmers to “clean” the fields for cattle ranching. I am so sad but not surprised that this is happening and that it got out of hand like it did in 2006, 2010 and 2016.
It is important to point out that not only the fires are destroying our forest yearly but there are also illegal miners poisoning our rivers, illegal loggers clearing important land and animal smugglers poaching endangered animals as well.
The other day Charlotte (co-founder of From Belo) was asking me what it was like living in the Amazon and even though I have fond memories of freedom, being so close to nature and to animals, it also haunts me all the suffering and pain I’ve seen caused by mankind.
I remember, when I was little, seeing animal smugglers selling toucans, monkeys and turtles on the road, trees being cut down, fires and devastation driven by greed.
At one occasion, I remember driving past a wildfire when I was 5 years old and throwing water from my bottle through the window thinking it would help to put out the fire.
The feeling of being useless and powerless became part of my childhood. Personally, that is the whole reason I was so passionate about creating a company that is sustainable, that helps people and does its best not to harm Mother Earth.
I think it's important to note that these unnatural fires are not new and we need to take action for the Amazon to stop this cycle of destruction.
LET`S TAKE ACTION FOR THE AMAZON
Even though I think it is great that light has finally been shed in this horrible ecocide, the Amazon needs more than prayers…this is a Global Emergency. If you don’t want to feel powerless and want to take action for the amazon, you could help by:
- Donating to NGOs that help our Rainforest. I have seen a lot of posts with different NGOs around the world that help the Amazon but because I am not familiar with their work, I will only suggest the ones I have personally seen doing great things:
WWF – They do amazing work in not only protecting the Amazon but also educating the natives in the importance of respecting the animals and taking care of the forest. They are currently seeking donations to carry out urgent work on the ground including:
- Supporting key local and indigenous communities’ needs for medical support, firefighter training and security
- Working with local governments where possible on procedures for fighting fires and deforestation
ISA (Instituto Socio Ambiental) - They do an incredible work supporting the natives and the indigenous population in the Rainforest. They fight bravely for their rights and advocate for stronger laws in the Brazilian parliament.
Asa e Amigos – Since 2001, they help rehabilitate wild animals that have been hurt, mistreated and smuggled. They do incredible work. I donate to them myself.
- Know where your beef has come from. Fast food hamburgers and processed beef products tend to have Amazonian meat in them.
- Ensure you can trace your products to a responsible source. If you can’t tell – then it probably isn’t but double-check by contacting the company.
If you make at least one small change that could have a massive impact on your planet.
STRONG WOMEN MAKING A DIFFERENCE
This incredible indigenous woman Celiana Krikati, is the first woman to be the head of the voluntary fire brigade of her land in the state of Maranhão in Brazil – were part of the Amazon Rainforest.
She is an example of indigenous resistance. With their own hands, traditional communities protect the environment against the destruction caused by powerful farmers, illegal miners and other threats.
It is great that the world is finally catching up with this massive horrifying problem that we face yearly. Social media helped increase coverage of the wildfires, but it's also contributing to misinformation. I see a lot of “fake news” and although it is great to cause and increase the impact to make people care, I am not a believer that any kind of publicity is great publicity, so here are some not so accurate photos I have seen been shared:
Yes, the image shows the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. But it's not of the current fires. It's more than 20 years old: the Guardian, which republished the photo in 2007, says it was taken in June 1989.
The image is very old. It was taken by photographer Loren McIntyre, who died in 2003. He has been on Amazon expeditions since the 1970s when he worked for National Geographic. McIntyre published a book in the 1990s about the Amazon. Image is for sale in the Alamy image bank.
The image of the rabbit with the burning hair was made in a fire that occurred in California, in the United States, in 2018. That is, it has no relationship with Brazil.
The image of the animal running in the midst of a burning field was taken during the burning of sugarcane in the state of São Paulo, in 2011, recorded by the newspaper "Folha de S.Paulo".
The armadillo was found in a reed in São Paulo, in 2018. It was attended and admitted to a rehabilitation centre. Finally, the image of the fallen animal was taken in Presidente Venceslau, also in the interior of São Paulo, in 2011, and is related to news about burning sugarcane straw.
This does not mean that there are no animals affected by fires in the Amazon; only that the photos used in the post are neither local nor current.
A video shared on social media shows an indigenous woman crying as she points into the flames and promises to protest against the criminals who set her village on fire. The title speaks of fire in the Amazon rainforest.
The video actually depicts an indigenous woman from the Naô Xohâ tribe of Belo Horizonte, where I am from, in the South East of Brazil. This does not mean that fires are not reaching indigenous Amazonian areas. Data indicates that there are also outbreaks of fires in Indigenous Lands.
Of course, people are trying to help and show outrage and I believe no one would share those photos and videos to be malicious. I just want to help educate everyone and share the truth.
CHANGING THE WORLD IS UP TO US
As I finish writing this post, I realize that even though what is happening in my beloved Amazon is horrific, I can see a silver lining on it all. The World is coming together and realizing the dirty truths behind our reckless lifestyle and consumption.
It brings me to hope when I see people protesting around the World demanding action from their politicians and even educating themselves and questioning how and what they can do to help.
Changing the world is up to us and I believe we are all finally realizing that. Paraphrasing Gandhi, let’s all keep being the change we want to see in the world.