While scouting out the opportunities and challenges of Promoting Hope’s work in the town of Manoel Domingos, in December, with Rev. Gerson Pinto Cardoso, Director of the North Region of Brazil for the Church of the Nazarene, I learned about a young man, Dalmo Mucio, who was completing his engineering studies in aquaculture, at the Center for Bio-sciences at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), in Natal.
Dalmo (Brazilians are usually called by their first names), had discovered aquaponics “accidentally” a few years earlier as he was conducting some water tests for fish. He learned that if plants grow in the water with the fish, there are fewer toxins, and that both fish and plants are healthier. He later went on to research and experiment with aquaponics until he became the expert in aquaponics at his university. Since then, he began to build aquaponic systems and has been invited to teach state agricultural workers the advantages of aquaponic systems and how to build them in rural areas.
It just “so happens” that Rev. Pinto Cardoso had been Dalmo’s pastor and knows him well. He had also learned of Dalmo’s work with aquaponics and thought I might be interested in talking with him. We met at Dalmo's home. As I talked to him and his wife, Angelica, I learned that their interest in aquaponics, and agriculture in general, was motivated mainly by a concern for the rural communities in the Sertão. Moreover, Dalmo said that he has a calling to work in these communities to promote holistic and sustainable agricultural practices that would lead to better health and all-around well-being of the people.
Could this interest in aquaponics and community development have been just a coincidence? Was our encounter accidental? Was it just by chance that Dalmo had attended Rev. Cardoso’s church, or that he knew about Dalmo’s interest in growing fish together with plants? No, of course not! Such encounters are not the result of coincidence. After spending weeks in January and February working alongside Dalmo and Angelica in the challenging setting of Manoel Domingos, I can vouch for their calling and commitment.
While Dalmo understands aquaponics, his commitment is to holistic development and sustainability. He introduced us to Embrapa, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply, which has published documents and videos that demonstrate how to build both aquaponic systems and develop holistic food sources in rural environments where climactic conditions are extreme, such as in the Sertão. Finding these resources is also a most valuable encounter that will facilitate some of our own work.
During our work in January and February, Dalmo worked tirelessly transporting materials, building aquaponics systems, mentoring volunteer young men in Manoel Domingos, while Angelica helped with the cooking for the crew, taking photographs, caring for the children, and so importantly, supplying coffee and snacks for the workers. Along the way, both Dalmo and Angelica demonstrated fundamental values and profound spiritual truths.
What an awesome encounter: a providential encounter. A Brazilian couple that is ready and totally committed to using their knowledge and resources to serve rural communities in the Sertão. Thank you Dalmo and Angelica for your valuable work in Manoel Domingos!