20150618-aRaimundo is a hairdresser and Edilene, an anesthetist and public administration clerk. So to take interest in the environment is not exactly their line of expertise. But in the face of the environmental and cultural invasion they are undergoing, together with other families with whom they share Christian ideals, they started to pose some questions to themselves. What heritage would we be leaving to our children? How can we diffuse our vision to a society that seems to be unaware of this destruction? How can we go against the current?

They have been married for 29 years, and have three children and three grandchildren.They live in Abaetetuba (Parà – Brazil), an «island» that covers Igarapé-Miri, Moju and Barcarena, three cities that were famous in the 1980s for the mining and industrial settlements. Many families had left their fields to work for the multinational companies, and settled down in the suburbs, nurturing new areas of poverty, with the illusion of a wealth they never reached.

The impact of these industries on the environment was devastating, to say the least. It had started with the indiscriminate felling of the açaizeiros (a regional native plant) to extract the palmito which was exported, depriving the families of an essential nutriment. The industrial residues dumped in the rivers had caused a visible reduction of fish and prawns, while atmospheric pollution reduced the production of fruits remarkably.

This happened at a local level. But the effects of the deforestation had a repercussion at global levels.The Amazon, in fact is a region where everything is mega in size, like its extension (occupying over 50% of the entire Brazil), its biodiversity, its forests and volume of sweet waters. But with the deforestation underway, all these precious resources run the risk of completely losing their efficacy.

It was not easy to see what had to be done. But Raimundo and Edilene could count on an element to make the difference: unity with the other families and the strength deriving from letting God guide them in their choices in life.

So they made a joint decision to transform with their own resources, a grazing field of 34 hectares into a fruit grove. For trees, they chose the typical varieties of the region that were more at risk of extinction, and at that point, some of these were no longer known by the youth. They worked hard and with great enthusiasm to create in Abaetetuba, an area for the preservation of local biodiversity.

The fruit grove, now producing edible fruits of 166 native species with two African species, makes up a collection of a unique genre: a wealth that offers an alternative to the region’s sustainable future.

The area called Radini, in honor of their children, Raisa, Radi and Raoni, is often visited by internationally famed researchers and environmentalists, actors, singers and also bishops and common folk but especially the youth. In fact, the site offers theoretic/practical lessons on biodiversity and conservation of the environment,with the distribution of informative material.

Even after the awards and acknowledgements received – like the important recognition in 2012 given by the Goeldidel Parà Museum – the site is now the subject of newspapers and magazines in the region. Edilene and Raimundo are always surprised to see the interest of so many people, some of whom feel the urge to follow their example and become, as they like to define themselves, “environmentalists with a heart.”

See reportage on page 47 of the journal Amazonia Viva

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