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Sister Bertha Lilian Barrera Ramírez, CND, in Service of the Environment



“My God, you are greatness and beauty. You are life and immensity. You are present in all creation.”

(Hymn to Creation)

In the city of El Progreso, Honduras, Sister Lilian leads the youth pastoral ministry and teaches adult Catechism.

As part of the Faustino Boado educational program, she carries out home visits providing psychological guidance to children and their parents. This program offers school supplies to 186 children.

While the environment is a major concern of all the sisters in the region, Sister Lilian actively works in the Saint Ignatius of Loyola Parish in the norther part of Honduras, where the Congregation is present. When meeting people in her various occupations, she gets them involved in her project of growing trees near rivers and ditches. Erosion in that area makes houses vulnerable to landslides. Planting trees slows down this situation: roots strengthen the banks by holding the soil and the shade of mature trees create cool areas in a country where temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius in summer.

Young cashew nut trees, cedars, macuelizos, guava and lemon trees are planted from seedlings in small green houses or small trees are bought and planted with shovels and machetes. People of all ages participate in the planting. transporting the trees is a challenge because of the significant distance they need to travel.

The objective of this project is not only planting trees but also seeing them grow to maturity. It takes at least two years for them take root. Volunteers have accepted to care for the plants. Regular watering is a challenge for communities without permanent access to water.

Sister Lilian believes that planting trees and liberating education are closely connected. She teaches children that every human being is part of creation and that we need to maintain a good relationship with nature.

“Gradually people become aware. How beautiful!!”

History

In 2005, while doing volunteer work for ERIC (Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicacióne – Reflection, Investigation and Communication Team), Sister Lilian visited marginalized neighbourhoods, particularly those located near bodies of water. In places where there are no trees, erosion causes serious problems during rainy seasons.

In time, Sister Lilian became involved with various types of organizations: catechism, grass-roots ecclesial communities, youth pastoral ministry, local emergencies committee, environmental committee, homework assistance, Jardín Santa Margarita. She also provides psychological support and participates in the Faustino Boado program.

In 2007, she began work in ecological awareness: she encouraged children with whom she worked to protect the environment. Together they discovered that people threw their trash in the river or in the neighbourhood’s ditches. Sister Lilian provided children and teenagers the necessary training to oversee the clean up tasks in specific areas. Results became evident after a few years. “Today, most of the neighbourhoods are clean. This, to me, is liberating education.”

In 2016, the Congrégation de Notre-Dame’s Social Justice Network funded tree-planting projects in various countries in Central America. Sister Lilian and her young volunteers could begin planting new trees.

Photos

Cleaning-up project.

Cleaning-up project.

Sister Lilian and a young volunteer doing his part.

Sister Lilian and a girl planting a tree in the Francisco Morazan Department.

2015, Sister Lilian at Jardín Santa Margarita in Santa Bárbara Department, Honduras, where she goes to rest and reflect.