Every year on the first friday of March the Women’s World day of Prayer organise a day of prayer and the service is written by a different country each year. In 2011, the service was given on March the 4th and the theme country was Chile. With kind permission from the Women’s World Day of Prayer,  excerpts from the 2011 church service How Many Loaves Have you? are presented below. The passages  give a perspective of Christian Chilean women on the culture and history of Chile. For details on the service in its entirety and other resources and downloads please vist the Women’s World Day of Prayer website. This service was prepared by Christian Women of Chile.

 

HOW MANY LOAVES HAVE YOU?

Leader

According to Chilean folklore, when God creted the universe he found, left over at the end, a little of each element that he had used: fire and cold, sun and snow, lakes, seas and rivers, burning deserts, massive mountain ranges, majestic volvanoes, leafy trees, a variety of metals, animals, fruits, birds and fish. All these were created for the hapiness of humankind. Taking it all in his hand, he decided to leave it in the furthest corner of the world and that is what he did. So Chile was born, and so Chile remains: a long narrow strip of land running between the mountains and the sea.

1st Woman of Chile

In Chile various cultures live together, sharing our long and narrow strip of land. We are a people who maintain a wealth of traditions and languages.

2nd Woman of Chile

I live in the north. We speak the language of the Aymaras. I greet you in my language: Napaykullyaki [pronounced as it is written] (Greetings). Now it is your turn:

All: Napaykullyaki

3rd Woman of Chile

I live in the south where the Mapuches say Mari Mari Lamgnem [lamoén] (Hello people). Now it is your turn:

All:Mari Mari Lamgnem [lamoén].

4th Woman of Chile

I come from Easter Island and speak the language of Rapa Nui. My greeting is iorana (Hello). Now it is your turn:

All:iorana.

1st Woman of Chile

I will greet you in Spanish, a language common to many countries of South America: Buenos días (Good day). Now it is your turn:

All:Buenos días.

All four together

On behalf of the people of Chile, we welcome you to this service.

2nd Woman of Chile

Bread is the main food in our homes. No meal is complete without it. We show hospitality, even in the poorest homes, by sharing coffee, tea or maté and bread. In a world where hunger is a universal disgrace and where noise prevents us from hearing anguished voices of so many sisters and brothers around us, sharing bread is a sign of solidarity and hope in Christ.

LIFE EXPERIENCES

Leader

Dear sisters and brothers around the world, we want to share with you events that profoundly distressed the people of Chile. Yet with God’s help, the burdens became easier to bear and the strength of solidarity emerged as a sign of hope. These were times when out of poverty we shared bread. Let’s listen carefully:

1st Woman of Chile

Since the birth of our nation in 1810 repression and killings have been used as means of state control in order to keep a tight rein on social demands. In 1905 workers from the nitrate processing plants in the north crossed the driest desert in the world, the Atacama, with their wives and children. Together they wanted to put pressure on the authorities for better living conditions. The military laid an ambush and some 2,000 were killed at the school of Santa María in Iquique [Eekeekeh]. Their ordeal publicised the terrible working conditions of millions of chilean workers. People began to organise themselves to defend their rights.

2nd Woman of Chile

Since the end of the 19th century the coal-mining area of Lota, a town near Concepción in the south of Chile, has been among the poorest in the country. It was the scene of many strikes until the mines were finally closed gin 1997, when over a thousand workers were laid off.

The women of Lota always supported the men in their struggle. The typical ‘miner’s bread’, cooked in community ovens, was an outstanding example of this. With the arrival of unemployment, miners’ wives took on the arduous task of raising their families with what they knew how to do best: making loaves of bread, known as ‘lulos’§.

Today these community ovens have been reinstalled in Lota. Women work in shifts to bake the bread and put it on the market, golden and crusty.

3rd Woman of Chile

Between 1973 and 1990 Chile lived through one of its hardest periods under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. This followed the military coup that overthrew the government of Salvador Allende. Many were killed and a great number were arrested. Some disappeared. People who could contribute to their country were forced into exile. They survived, thanks to many ‘widows of Zapareth’ who lent them a hand in the years when families were split up.

During the 1980s, despite continuing widespread political repression, collective action grew rapidly to meet mounting materidal needs. Local voluntary organisations reappeared, especially soup kitchens. They provided not only food but also an opportunity for sharing personal problems and discussing solutions to everyday difficulties.

4th Woman of Chile

Globalisation has brought benefits to just a few. Goods and land are sold to the highest bidders. Large multinational companies have secured land and mineral rights, seeing in our country an investment that will bring huge profits for themselves. The exploitation of natural resources, which are our country’s wealth, is in the hands of foreigners. The possession of material goods has become life’s highest aspiration for many. When principles and values are compromised in the pursuit of these goods, there are harmful consequences for our sisters and brothers.

 

† Use Buenas tardes if it is afternoon or Buenas noches if it is evening.

‡ A herbal tea.

§ A loaf that is wide in the middle and narrow at the top and bottom. The Spanish word in Chile is translated as ‘bundle’ and comes from ‘enrollar’ meaning ‘to roll up’ or ‘to make a roll’. The same word was used for swaddling a baby.

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