Laudato Si’ anniversary year
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical on inequality and ecological sustainability, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has announced a special Laudato Si’ anniversary year, May 24, 2020–May 24, 2021, calling on persons of goodwill to engage in ecological conversion1 and action. In harmony with Laudato Si’, the Sisters of the Holy Cross have a long-standing commitment to ecological sustainability and systemic change across the globe. They recognize that human dignity, creation, peace and nonviolence are inextricably linked, and that achieving the common good requires multidimensional, interconnected perspectives and approaches.
Among the Congregation’s initiatives to care for creation and God’s people is SOAR (Sisters Organizing and Advancing Recycling), a project launched by Sister Comfort Arthur, CSC, and the sisters’ Justice Committee for Ghana. Currently, the sisters are expanding SOAR to further their two-fold vision: to address environmental degradation and public health problems caused by discarded plastic waste, and to reduce poverty in the Kasoa region.
Kasoa, located along Ghana’s southern coast in western Africa, has experienced rapid population growth in the last 30 years, becoming increasingly more urban. While this expansion has generated new economic opportunities, it has also created new problems such as an exponential increase in plastics use and littering. Plastic litter clogs local drainage systems, resulting in flooding and standing water that spreads deadly diseases such as malaria. People living in poverty are disproportionately affected by such circumstances.
SOAR addresses multidemensional need
SOAR engages the community in the collection of plastic waste and provides education and outreach. The project pays individual collectors for plastic waste based on the current rate recycling partners are willing to pay for the material, simultaneously providing dignified work and ensuring the proper disposal of plastics. Partnerships with local parishes and schools have also been fruitful, serving as connection points for collection, building awareness of the importance of recycling, and linking this activity to care for God’s creation.
Blessed by the generosity of donors and foundations, SOAR has removed more than 15,000 pounds of plastic waste from the environment and provided jobs for more than 40 women. SOAR currently operates in the archdioceses of Cape Coast and Accra. In the 2020–2021 year, thanks to a grant from the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, programming is expanding to the neighboring Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi, with the goal of tripling the amount of plastics collected and jobs provided. Today, SOAR serves as an inspiration and a model of sustainability for others, even as it seeks new horizons.
To help SOAR rise to meet its goals please consider making a donation.