Church solidarity visits planned to Congo, Bolivia and Uruguay

By agency reporter
July 8, 2009

A team of church representatives from Europe, Latin America and Africa will pay a solidarity visit to churches, ecumenical organizations and civil society movements in Uruguay and Bolivia from 9 to 16 July 2009. A second team will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo at the same time.

Both teams are travelling as 'Living Letters' on behalf of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo is a joint initiative of the WCC and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC).

Living Letters are small ecumenical teams which visit a country to listen, learn, share approaches and help to confront challenges in order to overcome violence, promote and pray for peace. They are organized in the context of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence to prepare for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011.

Although located in the same region, Uruguay and Bolivia are very different in terms of their economic, cultural, ethnic, social and political profiles. The situations of violence range from the wounds left by a military dictatorship in Uruguay to conflicts over a political change process under first nations' leadership in Bolivia.

In Uruguay, the team will learn about initiatives against domestic violence and violence towards women, as well as youth violence, exclusion and drug abuse. The agenda of the 9-11 July visit includes encounters with women's movements and visits to church-related youth projects in Barrio Borro and El Cerro, two suburbs of Montevideo that have become hotspots for conflict and violence.

In Bolivia, 13-16 July, the team will visit Santa Cruz and its vast, poor suburb Plan 3000 with almost 300,000 inhabitants mostly of Aymara, Quechua, and Guarani descent. It will also visit La Paz with its predominantly indigenous neighbouring city El Alto, and Copacabana in the north-west of the country.

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