The Lenten Campaign - Fastenopfer

The Lenten Campaign - Fastenopfer

The Lenten Campaign - Fastenopfer


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The Lenten Campaign

Mineral extraction: profits for some, suffering for others

The Matterhorn is a small piece of Africa in

the heart of the Alps. The African continental

plate gives birth to one of the most

beautiful landscapes of our country.

This continent turns up in the most unexpected

places: our mobile phones and

computers, for example. Some of the metals

used to make them were mined in the

African subsoil. Often with associated

violence : expulsions, intolerable working

conditions, wars, hunger…

The wealth of countries with rich mineral

deposits is plundered: the State grants the

concessions for raw material extraction

to international companies, who enjoy

significant privileges and violate the

rights of local populations. The people who

used to live with these treasures in their

soil become landless or workers without

rights: instead of benefiting from this

wealth, they are either displaced or work for

a starvation wage on which they cannot

live. Their right to food is violated, not

to mention their right to live with dignity.

It is this injustice that the 2011

ecumenical campaign denounces.

Alongside the local populations of the

Congo, as well as in South Africa and

other countries, the Swiss Catholic Lenten

Fund and Bread for All are committed to









TO 3636

increasing justice, by supporting the local

communities affected by the activities of

the multinationals in their battle to defend

their rights and by requesting the federal

authorities to monitor the work of the

Swiss companies involved in African mining


The campaign advocates that the exploitation

of deposits should not lead to violations

of human rights, in particular that it should

protect the right to food of the populations

concerned. The exploitation of mineral

resources must be carried out above all for

the benefit of the people living in the countries

of the South.

Introduction to the theme

The right to food and mineral

exploitation in the Democratic

Republic of Congo

It has become a commonplace that: “the

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is

a geological scandal involving more than

1100 different mineral substances”. Although

these minerals are highly prized on international

markets, they do not generally

provide any benefit for the Congolese.

The DRC possesses one third of the

world’s known reserves of cobalt, 10% of

its copper reserves and 80% of its coltan

reserves. It is one of the world's major

suppliers of diamonds. And yet “its”

mineral wealth does not bring the DRC

much in return: it ranks among one of

the poorest countries.

The impact of mineral extraction

on food security

The Congolese do not seem to realise that

their agricultural and natural resources

would bring them equal benefits. The

chance to earn a small sum of money in the

mines has a negative impact on education

and on agriculture. One of the first consequences

is a reduction in the supply of

food products. Price rises logically result

from this, as well as food insecurity. If noone

cultivates the land, how can sustained

access to food be possible?

The State has obligations with regard to the


right to food of its citizens. Agricultural

activities have been abandoned because

the land was sold either by agreement or by

force to the mining companies. Losing access

to the means to produce their food, men and

women are driven to work in the mines.

The ones who gain from the mineral exploitation

are the mining companies themselves,

who generally export the raw materials. The

Congolese State profits from this through

the various taxes it collects from the companies.

But as corruption has become “a

way of life”, the tax revenue is insignificant

and the mining sector’s contribution to

the national budget is purely symbolic. The

Congolese population hardly benefits from

the mineral exploitation.

The theological, social

and ethical perspective

The dignity of Congolese men and women

must be restored by helping them to go

from a less to a more human condition.

Without the ethical reference, without the

moral values of those engaged in the mining

sector, no social, economic, environmental

or cultural well-being can be guaranteed.

From the theological perspective, “Man

is truly human only if he is the master of his

own actions and the judge of their worth,

only if he is the architect of his own

progress. He must act according to his

God-given nature, freely accepting its

potentials and its claims upon him” (Populorum

Progressio, 34). Progress must

not be understood as the growth of the mining

sector, although this is an important

activity, often the only source of income for

the poor. “The Glory of God is Man fully

alive” (St. Irenaeus of Lyon), that is, able

to live with dignity.

In the Bible, several words are used to

define the mandate given to Man by God.

He gave Man, who is the summit of his

intrinsically “good” creation (cf. Gen. 1.31),

the obligation to “take care of it” responsibly

(cf. Gen. 2.15).

My view is inspired by the Church’s vision

of a person created in the image of God and

of a society where love, justice, peace and

solidarity reign. It is borne along by the

notion of the “integral human development”

of all, according to the phrase used

by Pope Paul VI in Populorum Progressio.

This implies that the exploitation of our

natural resources should be methodical,

monitored, transparent and carried out for

the benefit of the people.

Extracts from the introductory text by

Ferdinand Muhigirwa Rusembuka, Director

of the Catholic Institute CEPAS (Study

Centre for Social Action) in Kinshasa,


Photo: © Patricio Frei, Action de Carême

Take action

“160,000 Roses for the Right to Food”

The traditional “rose day” will be held on

2 nd April 2011. Each rose purchased helps

to support a cooperation development

project by the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund

and Bread for All in the Democratic Republic

of Congo. Since 2005, this action has

led to the collection of some 4.8 million

Swiss francs for underprivileged populations

in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Shared Bread, a joint action with your

local baker

From 9 th March to 24 th April 2011, Swiss

bakers are joining the campaign for the

fourth year running by proposing “Shared

Bread” during Lent. For each “Shared

Bread” sold, 50 centimes go towards the

projects of the Swiss Catholic Lenten

Fund and Bread for All.

Does the baker in your area or parish

take part?

If not, talk to them about this action and

invite them to participate!

You can explain this action with the help of

the leaflet “Shared Bread” which contains

a reply coupon enabling your baker to

subscribe to the action and to order the

required material.

For more information: 021 617 88 81 or


Petition for improved multinational

social responsibility

For the 2011 ecumenical campaign, Bread

for All and the Swiss Catholic Lenten

Fund wish to increase the Swiss people’s

awareness of the human rights abuses

committed by Swiss mining companies.

The charities will also invite you to lobby

the Federal Council for the adoption of a

clear and coherent policy in this domain.

Sign and get others to sign the campaign


by signing it directly on the website


by downloading the petition form on the

site www.droitalimentation.ch or ordering

it by telephone from our offices.

The petition in brief

Bread for All and the Swiss Catholic Lenten

Fund are asking the Federal Council to

commit itself to drawing up a clear, coherent

and transparent policy concerning international

companies and human rights. As

regards the mining industries, this policy

must notably guarantee:

increased financial transparency: transnational

companies, especially petrol

or mining ones, must openly publish,

by country, the payments made to the

governments of the countries whose

deposits they exploit.

increased judicial transparency: the

Federal Council must identify the possibility

of introducing a due diligence into

Swiss law to oblige multinationals whose

headquarters are in Switzerland to take the

necessary measures to prevent violations

of human rights by their subsidiaries.

Make a donation by SMS

Support the local populations affected by

mineral and petrol extraction activities in

their battle to defend their rights!

Send “MANGER” followed by the sum

that you wish to donate to 3636.

For example: to make a donation of 10

Swiss francs, send “MANGER 10” to 3636.


© Miles Guidetti: Fernando Pereira/ Le Cygne Blanc

Support a project in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Creating village associations

in rural areas

In the province of Bas-Congo, the villagers

of Tsumba Tkituti have joined together to

form the association “Uplabo” meaning

“Union of Planters”. This is one of the

118 organisations set up by the Centre for

the Promotion and Education of Base

Communities (CEPECO), which has been a

partner for over ten years with the Swiss

Catholic Lenten Fund in the Democratic

Republic of Congo. The CEPECO supports

each association in its battle for food security

and the strengthening of subsistence


With the support of the CEPECO, these

associations also create savings banks. In

addition, the CEPECO assists the communities

in the defence of their rights in

terms of the environment, access to natural

resources and local government.

Lenten Fund Project no. 130219

CCP 10-15955-7

Pain pour le prochain

Av. du Grammont 9

1007 Lausanne

Tél. 021 614 77 17



Brot für Alle

Monbijoustrasse 29, Postfach 5621,

3001 Bern

Tel. 031 380 65 65,



A Centre for Street Children

More than 80,000 children live on the

streets in the Democratic Republic of

Congo. Since the collapse of the Kolwezi

copper mine, the economic and social

crisis has inexorably spread. Many children

are neglected, have run away from home

or are driven out by their parents. Roaming

gangs of street children feed on rubbish

and stolen food and have to find a new

place to sleep each night. To meet the most

urgent needs, numerous organizations

provide free meals for the children. This

is the case of “Kipedano”, women of the

Evangelical Church of North Katanga,

who receive support from Connexio – a

partner of Bread for All. Three times a

week, they cook for about 300 children

and teenagers. They also provide a safe

place, a haven from the harsh reality of

life on the street, where the young can

play and learn as children once again.

Bread for All Project no. 197.5101

CCP 10-26487-1

Action de Carême

Av. du Grammont 7

1007 Lausanne

Tél. 021 617 88 81



The Swiss Catholic Lenten

Fund (Fastenopfer-Action de

Carême-Sacrificio Quaresimale)

The Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund is a

Catholic charity in Switzerland. It provides

financial support for over 350

projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia

and Switzerland. Other objectives of the

Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund are to raise

the Swiss population’s awareness of the

problems of maldevelopment and to intervene

in the public debate on various

development-related questions.

Bread for All

(Brot Für Alle – Pain pour

le prochain – Pane per Tutti)

Bread for All is the development service

of the Protestant Churches in Switzerland.

It supports some 350 development

programmes and projects in 60 countries.

Through its information and awareness

campaigns in Switzerland on North-South

questions and its development policy activities,

Bread for All is committed to fairer

international socio-economic structures.


Alpenquai 4

6002 Luzern


Tel. 041 227 59 59


www.fastenopfer.ch Article

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