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FIGHTING
FOREST FIRES

Check out about the Fighting forest fires Project in Brazil, where we feature how ordinary people organize themselves to serve their local communities in the fight against fire. It is also a reflection on how we can all, and should all, serve our mother earth.

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INFORMATION

PROJECT NAME: Fighting forest fires in Brazil.

COUNTRY: Brazil
CITY: Moeda 

DESCRIPTION: Support provided by the local community in fighting the forest fires that occur every year in Brazil.

PEOPLE SERVED: Local community, residents and biodiversity protection.

STARTING YEAR:  2014

PERSON IN CHARGE:  Paramdhan Singh

IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT THE PROJECT, PLEASE CONTACT:

paramdhansingh8378@gmail.com

@paramdhan_singh

INTERVIEW

In mid-September, a period of severe drought in various parts of Brazil, seven fires raged in Serra da Moeda, an area outside Belo Horizonte, destroying everything on its path. This was just another of the countless forest fires that have devastated the Brazilian biomes. This fire destroyed almost 50% of the mountain's terrain. The Cerrado biome is the tropical savanna ecoregion with the greatest biodiversity on the planet.

Wildfires in the mountains and rural areas are increasingly intense and always human-caused. They get out of control and take on extraordinary proportions, threatening everyone.

However, in the game of polarities, nothing is just light or shade. The other side of the systematic destruction caused by the fires currently ravaging Brazil are the people who are willing to fight it. This side has people who are fighting against the flames that are taking over the biomes of this South American region, putting their lives at risk.

Paramdhan Singh is part of a group of residents who stop their daily activities every year to try to contain the fires that become more aggressive each year. He has lived in the region for about eight years, when he chose to move from the big city to the countryside, looking for a more aligned lifestyle in the nature. Since then, fire fighting has also become part of his life cycle. 

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO PERFORM THIS SERVICE?

"The first fight was to help my father, who has lived in the region since 2006. I helped by fighting the fire to protect his home, which is located in the Sierra region. We realized that if we didn't do it, no one would do it for us; that's how it started and how it keeps going. That is why the local residents are the first line of defense.

Given the precarious help from the institutions meant to fight these fires, the local population often becomes the first line of defense, beating out the huge flames for days, staying until the end of the fire, when the state help has already left."

 

IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT IS THIS SERVING LIKE?

"Fighting the flames makes me feel great humility and reverence: it reminds me of how small and ephemeral we are in the face of the greatness of nature and the power of fire.

It is an extreme situation in which we put our lives at risk, but the call for help from all sides is so loud that we don't hesitate to answer.

It is a calling to service with no questions or certainties, and although we are insignificant in the face of fire, we know that our presence makes a difference to the creatures in the forest, the neighbors, and Mother Earth herself, who continues to support us."

 

WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE IN PERFORMING THIS SERVICE?

"The heat, the smoke, and the heavy weight of the equipment are exhausting. The terrain is very dangerous. A city firefighter wouldn't know how to move here. We have great difficulties ourselves, even though we know the terrain, when it comes to moving around. So, if you wander or enter the wrong place, you are at risk of losing consciousness or getting trapped because of the fire; it's extremely dangerous.

In the beginning, we fought the fire with no equipment, no special protective clothing. Today we know we can't do this; that' s why we have invested in buying equipment such as goggles, gloves, boots, protective clothing with night-visible signs, a breathing mask, among others, for ourselves and for the people of the region who help us in the fight.

Unfortunately, the equipment is very expensive and many people still cannot afford it, so they continue to fight the fire without such protection, risking their lives even more.

This is why it is essential to serve in groups, since this is basically a team effort: the person who puts out the fire with the leaf blower must have someone standing behind him with a water pump and another one with a fire damper. This trio must always work together. All I can say is that with each fire that occurs, I always come home saying that the last one was the worst of all. In the end, the memories get mixed up and it's true, because the last one is always the closest and therefore the scariest."

 

HOW DO YOU FACE THESE CHALLENGES?

HOW DOES THE PRACTICE OF KUNDALINI YOGA HELP YOU PERFORM THIS SERVICE?

"I do what I do and I manage to do it by practicing Kundalini Yoga. It gives me strength, focus, balance, clarity and courage to be in that moment providing that service.

It requires full attention and focus, in addition to the necessary physical strength and resistance, and Kundalini Yoga has allowed me to develop all of these elements.

As for the values we practice, it is a call to service that I do not refuse to answer. It's odd . . . You don't think about it, because if you do, you don't act on it. Obviously, I continue to help very much for my father, for our homes, but above all, it is a call to protect the territory and those who need it. The magnitude of the fires are immense, there are always those who will need help."

 

A COMMON REALITY

Similar to this group of Serra de Moeda residents, it is local residents in other regions who have taken action to fight the various sources of fire that are making news around the world, especially in the Amazon and the Pantanal. It is not unusual to see on social media videos of heartbroken residents watching the devastation and deaths happening before their eyes on an ever-increasing scale. In this scenario, they pause their lives every year to save what their feet and hands can save.

A biome on fire means that life there is being wiped out. This destruction threatens the ability of these systems to continue to exist and serve Mother Earth's body and all the diversity that inhabits them. That is why we are trying at this point to get destructive behavior of this kind prosecuted as a crime, characterizing it as ecocide.

And it is against this kind of crime that a growing number of people, especially young people (with Greta Thunberg as a leading exponent), are raising their voices and taking action to create a lifestyle that is more in harmony with the pulse of the Earth: voices and lifestyles that will support what the ancient peoples of the Earth have been doing for centuries in deep reverence and gratitude to the Body that welcomes them.

For this reason, choices such as consuming local agro ecological products with origin certification or organic certification, reducing the use of animal products, verifying the working conditions of the employees in the production chain of what we consume, pressuring governments to act in favor of a greater collective good, and supporting local institutions that are committed to the well-being of the planet, are not just the speech of an activist.

These are ways to put pressure on the approval of laws and public policies that favor nature and its biodiversity, the living conditions of farmers, and the effective fight against hunger in countries where social inequality is abysmal. With such an extreme climate crisis, we must ask ourselves what responsibilities we have taken, from the beginning of our own reality, to serve Pachamama, our Great Mother, through our actions and consumption. 

 

SOME POSSIBLE WAYS TO SERVE MOTHER EARTH

Therefore, we invite everyone to consciously contribute to the health of Mother Earth, being part of this network of people who in different ways are serving the health of this body that welcomes us beyond measure.

 

• Buy local and agroecological / organic products;

• Reduce the consumption of animal products,
• Recycle dry waste;
• Compost your organic waste;

• Avoid the use of petroleum-based products;

• Avoid single-use products;
• Resignify and reuse objects.

 

We invite you to look at what we consume as the focal point of a lifestyle that anchors health in our body and the body of Pachamama, Mother Earth, as well as a political act for the dignity of all beings.