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Annemarie Barrett

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Sharing life and work with my community in Cochabamba, Bolivia

Greetings and welcome to my support raising page! This page will be available to you as a direct way to make contributions to my work as a Franciscan lay missioner throughout my time serving here in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Each contribution that you make directly supports our Franciscan ministry of presence and service in solidarity with marginalized communities here in Cochabamba and are a way for us to engage this journey together.

I am currently working 6 days a week on the Pastoral de la Madre Tierra or the "Mother Earth Pastoral Team" in a Catholic parish in the southern zone of the city of Cochabamba.

The southern zone of the city has historically been the most marginalized sector of the city. The presence of indigenous languages and dress is much more prevalent in this zone. Access to potable water, reliable waste management, effective education and reliable transportation all vary depending on the neighborhood you are in and are not guaranteed.

Although considered urban, the population in this zone of the city is still very connected to rural life and specifically rural agriculture because most have migrated from rural areas and their families still live in those rural areas. Many migrant families also still maintain land in rural parts of the country while living in this urban area.

As the Mother Earth Pastoral Team, we are tasked with building the parish community through the medium of both the parish garden space and huertas familiares or "in-home gardens." Our vision of creating community is deeply rooted in the Franciscan ministry of presence.

We are also tasked with caring for creation as a part of the parish mission, just one way that the parish is living out the mission of the Catholic church as a whole.

Our continued hope is to engage various age groups and communities within the parish in our work in the garden so that the mission of care for creation might be a shared mission throughout each community connected to the parish.

The mission of care for creation is lived out in our parish through the recuperation of Andean spirituality, a spirituality that shares much in common with Franciscan spirituality.

The parish of Santa Vera Cruz has a strong connection to indigenous communities and is known as a center of both Catholic and Andean spirituality.

As a result, our team is constantly growing in our understanding of the Andean cosmovision as an integral part of our work and relationships, meaning that we intend to work with Mother Earth as a mutual partner in our work, a concept very different from the Western belief that people dominate the land for our benefit.

The Andean cosmovision is a guide for the growth of our work as we try to move towards working and living by the Andean agricultural calendar and understand seeds, plants, seasons, sun, moon, water, etc as all partners in our work.

We do our best to practice organic farming in the parish garden by preparing and utilizing organic formulas for pest and fungus control in our plants, recognizing that pesticides are not only toxic for the Earth but also for our communities and that both the health of the Earth and our communities are interrelated.

We are educating ourselves on seed saving and connecting to global movements towards the protection of seeds as a way of honoring the natural cycles of the Earth and protecting the quality of nutrients in native seeds that are not treated chemically or genetically engineered.

We utilize a variety of forms of compost in the parish garden and are working towards more effective and sustainable waste management within the parish community, initiatives that are led by our pastoral team.

The long-term goal of FMS is for lay missioners to bring their experiences back to the US, and to live a life-long mission of presence and service here, to strengthen and renew our own communities. We recognize that the needs of the most marginalized are needs we all share, to be treated with dignity, to be loved and welcomed in a spirit of community.

The opportunity to grow in solidarity with marginalized and resilient communities, surrounded by an international community of support, has overwhelmed me with gratitude and inspired me to commit to a third year of service and growth as a Franciscan lay missioner.

I will now be serving with FMS here in Cochabamba until December 2015 and as a result have increased by support raising goal to $22,500 in order to support my additional year of service.

Throughout my time here I am maintaining a blog with lots of stories, reflections and pictures. The blog is a great way for us to stay connected. Here is the link (may need to copy and paste in your browser):

Thank you for your prayerful support during my time on mission, I am grateful every day for the opportunity to share this journey with you and I look forward to the many ways that we will continue to grow together during my third year.
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