This time in Brazil has been an unforgettable experience. From exploring vibrant cities and engaging museums, to walking through the Atlantic rainforest to visit Guarani and other communities to share mātauranga, waiata and aspirations. Visiting NGOs working in different ways to support those on the ground to have greater control over their futures and to fully assert their rights. Spending time in sacred spaces and experiencing connection in a way I still cannot articulate. We met and learned about amazing leaders advocating for Indigenous rights and working to create change at local, regional, national and international levels. We also learned of the humanitarian crisis the Yanomami people are experiencing as a result of the ongoing exploitation and degradation of their lands, primarily due to illegal mining.
Through this experience, I have developed a deeper appreciation of the struggles endured by Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian communities, and a renewed determination to do more to address the systemic barriers that threaten health and wellbeing here in Aotearoa and abroad. The experiences are different, but the core drivers of these injustices are shared. Through this, we have a collective sense of purpose. We were welcomed into communities as relatives and I leave holding that in my heart. Moving forward, I have an expanded sense of responsibility and connection towards all my relatives. I know this is only the beginning of a much longer journey.