Mercy Global Action: Presence to Earth
Colleen Swain (Americas): 'Reborn from the Ashes'

Earlier this month, I woke up to see the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean; the forecast predicted a clear sunny day. However, what I experienced was something unexpected. I expected to see the yellow sun break through the horizon as the waves rolled in, something so beautiful yet many times taken for granted. But that day I experienced a dim red sun rise over a dark hazy sky, a sky that was shrouded in smoke. It wasn’t until I saw the news that morning that I understood what I was experiencing here, on the East Coast of the United States, was a result from the wildfires on the West Coast thousands of miles away.

This year in the United States, 3.7 million acres have been destroyed by wildfires.[1] My sisters and brothers in Australia began 2020 with this same fate, and last year, wildfire devastation reigned across the Amazon and even parts of the Arctic.

Yet there is a paradox—something I learned more about during this summer when I had the opportunity to explore some of the National Parks in the United States. In 1988, Yellowstone National Park experienced five wildfires destroying 36% of the entire park.[2] Despite the destruction, it gave scientists and the community the opportunity to understand the role of fire in some of the most unique ecosystems in the world...


[1] National Interagency Fire Center. “National Preparedness Level 5.” September 25, 2020

[2] National Park Service. “1988 Fires”. US Department of the Interior. August 27, 2020

Download the complete article (A4) Download the complete article (US Letter) Descargar el artículo completo (Tamaño de papel A4) Descargar el artículo completo (Tamaño carta, EE. UU.)

Spanish translation by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Traducción al español por las Hermanas de la Misericordia de las Américas

Colleen Swain is the Leadership Development and Advocacy Associate with Mercy International Association, Mercy Global Action (MIA-MGA). During her time with MIA-MGA, Colleen has engaged in global policy at the United Nations and numerous Mercy justice advocacy responses in relation to the MIA key thematic areas of Displacement of Persons and Degradation of Earth at both the local and global level. Most recently, Colleen has been the program administrator of the Mercy Global Action Emerging Leaders Fellowship. Colleen graduated from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island where she earned her Master’s Degree in International Relations and Bachelor degrees in Global Studies with a concentration in international development and Spanish. 

Share Your Response to Colleen's Presentation

You can post a comment on this presentation as a Guest User, or using your facebook, twitter, disqus or google account.

Here's how to post as a Guest User:

  1. Type your comment in the field 'join/start the discussion'.
  2. Click inside the box that says “Name” and type your first and last name.
  3. Fill in your email. NB: this will not be shared or included with your comment.
  4. Click the checkbox next to “I’d rather post as a guest.” 
  5. Click the arrow to submit your comment/question.

All Guest User comments are moderated (checked) before being put live

Sign in using Google, Facebook or Twitter to leave a comment