Step into the Gap – Welcome to Nicaragua!

Hola! Greetings from Kate, Steph, Bernie, Chris, Tania and Vicky in Nicaragua. The first few days of this trip have been amazing and as a group we thought we would each share a part of our experience up to now.

“Welcome to Nicaragua.” The sound of the flight attendant announcing, in her very American accent, our arrival brought up excitement in all of us. Tom, a friendly face and experienced aid worker from Canada, was there to meet us with another taxi driver, Jaime.  On the way back to our accommodation with Jaime, we passed many low level concrete buildings with corrugated iron roofs but also on the main street every 100 metres or so these 15 metres high stunningly yellow trees absolutely covered in lightbulbs stood. Tania asked Jaime what it was and apparently they are “The Tree of Life”, the work of the first lady Rosario Murillo. It seemed so out of place. When we got back to our accommodation, we were warmly welcomed and were certainly pleased to know that there was air conditioning in each of the rooms before we got some much needed sleep after the 22 hour journey.

The Nicaragua Step into the Gap team outside CAFOD office
The Nicaragua Step into the Gap team outside CAFOD office

After we had arrived and spent some time resting we woke and headed out on our first day to meet the Central America CAFOD team. We were greeted at the office by the whole team who are so friendly and welcoming. We spent time finding out more about what CAFOD’s work focuses are in Central America, in particular Nicaragua. This has given us a better understanding of the country, its history and the people. We can’t wait to spend time working alongside them and the partners they work with to really experience all that the team support partners in, whether training, networking or support.

Find out more about CAFOD’s work in Nicaragua

As we embarked on our second day in Managua we couldn’t wait to find out more about the partners and communities we would be visiting whilst we are here. We started our day by meeting ASOMUPRO, the association of women’s farmers. This gave us opportunities to not only learn more about ASOMUPRO but an opportunity to connect with the people who worked in there office and what they valued about the work of ASOMUPRO. This was a truly inspiring and emotional opportunity to learn.

ASOMUPRO - Association of Women's Farmers
ASOMUPRO – Association of Women’s Farmers

We then continued our day by meeting the John XXIII Institute to learn more about the strong friendship they have with CAFOD and the work they do out in communities. The afternoon ended with our final meeting with the Sisters of the Guardian Angel in partnership with Envio. The sisters work with young people on community leadership and empowerment. They also run a canteen which gives young children the opportunity to gather and play games.  We can’t wait to meet everyone, get to know them and learn.

CAFOD gap year volunteers meeting the Sisters of the Guardian Angel
CAFOD gap year volunteers meeting the Sisters of the Guardian Angel

Today is our third day and has been absolutely incredible! After a tiring few days recovering from jetlag and meeting lots of people, today was a day where we got to experience the local environment that Managua has to offer. We began by going to the top of one of the many live volcanos which Nicaragua has. This was a first for us all and had us in awe! It was out of this world to stand at the edge of the crater and see the smoke, not something I ever thought I’d be able to say. We sampled the local delicacy of coconut juice to cool us down.

Drinking coconuts
Drinking coconuts

The afternoon was spent in paradise. We swam in a beautiful lagoon in the valley of the volcano we had just climbed. It was so refreshing after a morning of intense heat. However, what really struck me was the bumpy ride we had to get there; driving past posh luxurious hillside villas right next to whole communities living in tin roof shacks was something that hit me as quite shocking.

Another thing that really struck us after yesterday, was the importance of looking after our world. We are all very fortunate to live in a place where climate change is not such a massive issue as it is in Nicaragua. The beautiful greenery and landscapes are breathtaking as we saw from the top of the volcano. However we have also heard about how El Nino (a weather system) has affected the country, especially the harvests and CAFOD partners have been working very hard to help people become more resilient and adapt to the changing climates. We will be learning more about this issue over the next few weeks.

Join CAFOD’s One Climate, One World campaign to support communities around the world affected by climate change

These past few days have been truly awe inspiring, and have got the team extremely excited for the next coming weeks ahead. As of next week, we will be venturing out of Managua and going into rural Nicaragua to meet CAFOD partners to truly immerse ourselves into the communities and everyday life of those around us.

Some exciting things that are planned ahead for us  over the next coming weeks is beekeeping, as well as learning about the importance of  empowerment of  women here in Nicaragua, we also have the opportunity to visit social housing projects as well as assisting the Sisters of the Guardian Angels.

Interested in the Step into the Gap programme? Applications are open now

Read more blogs from young people – meet our Young Climate Bloggers

Introducing our new CAFOD young climate bloggers!

CAFOD's new young climate bloggers!
Some of CAFOD’s new young climate bloggers!

Our 25 new CAFOD young climate bloggers are launching One Climate, One World for children and young people today at Brentwood Cathedral. They have been training with CAFOD in media and campaigning at the Othona Community in Essex. They will be blogging on climate and environment issues throughout 2015. Here are their very first blogs: Continue reading “Introducing our new CAFOD young climate bloggers!”

Voices from the Philippines: Cleofas

Across the world, disasters disproportionately affect those who are already living in poverty. A changing climate is set to make this situation worse. Cleofas Friego lost her home and her means of making a living because of Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda). She says:

“The typhoons we had before were not that strong compared to what we have now.

“Typhoon Yolanda affected us because it destroyed almost all our coconut trees, which is how we earned our income. It takes about six years for coconut trees to grow back. We used to harvest three times a year. Now we have difficulty finding sources of food for our children.

“CAFOD and Catholic Relief Services helped us to set up a new garden. We will plant vegetables, so we have food to eat. If I ever get to earn a living again, I will rebuild my house, send my children to school and send my disabled child for medical treatment.”

A new start?

Thanks to your donations to our Philippines Typhoon appeal, Cleofas is starting to make a living again. But the Philippines is repeatedly hit by typhoons, which could leave farmers like Cleofas having to start again from scratch.

CAFOD’s campaign, One Climate, One World, asks British political leaders to work with other countries to secure an ambitious international deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and to support the transition from polluting fossil fuels to sustainable energy. Add your name to our climate petition today.

Tobi gets her college campaigning!

Tobi training with other CAFOD young leaders
Tobi training with other CAFOD young leaders

Tobi is a CAFOD young leader and is passionate about getting others involved in campaigning against climate change.

One of the issues CAFOD campaigns about is climate change. Climate change is the biggest threat to reducing poverty, whether it’s floods destroying livelihoods, or unpredictable rains leaving millions hungry.

So how can we stop this? #Fortheloveof is a campaign by The Climate Coalition, and CAFOD is working together with them, to celebrate the things we love and to also call on politicians to tackle climate change. Continue reading “Tobi gets her college campaigning!”

Nicaragua: For the love of God, let’s care for the environment

In a month’s time, we’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day and, as part of the Climate Coalition, we’ll be asking you to #showthelove and let everyone know why acting on climate change is a crucial part of loving our neighbours.

Show the love – tell your MP why you care about action to protect the environment and tackle climate change

Twenty-six-year-old teacher, Lazaro Salvador Gutierrez Gonzalez, lives in a village in the municipality of Jinotega in the dry corridor of Nicaragua, an area prone to irregular rainfall and drought. Here he reflects on how the love of God motivates him to care for his environment.

Lazaro Salvador Gutierrez Gonzalez
Lazaro Salvador Gutierrez Gonzalez

This was a very poor community, difficult to get to, and very few organisations came here. But CAFOD partner Caritas Jinotega came. I can say truly it is an organisation that is concerned for its neighbour, that seeks out love and God sent it here to share this love for its neighbour.

The climate is difficult here because it is hot, so when Caritas brought trees to plant it was a moment of joy for me. I said to myself, I am going to make a change here, I am going to see this area reforested.

This is my dream

So we started to plant the trees, always with the hope that they will grow big, and that we will have cleaner air, a fresher climate. Worm composting gives us organic compost to help the plants to grow and the children that I teach learn to look after the plants, and have the hope of seeing new plants and fruit. This is my dream: to bring nature to the school.

Continue reading “Nicaragua: For the love of God, let’s care for the environment”

Seven (and a half) reasons 2015 is the year for action on climate change

Sophie Dodgeon, Head of Campaigns at CAFOD.
Sophie Dodgeon, Head of Campaigns at CAFOD.

CAFOD’s Head of Campaigns, Sophie Dodgeon, gives us the lowdown on what to watch out for in the year ahead – and explains why 2015 is such a crucial year for action on climate change.

Sign our climate petition to party leaders

1. It’s a year to say goodbye. In 2015, we reach the end of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Millennium Development Goals. Both are UN processes which set targets for governments to meet.

The Kyoto Protocol covered carbon emissions, and the Millennium Development Goals gave a global framework to measure progress on ending poverty – from improving access to education to reducing the number of women dying in childbirth.

 2. It’s a year to make a new start. The end of past agreements means the pressure is on this year to set new goals and agreements to spur us on into the future.

In September, all eyes will be on New York, where there will be a major UN summit to agree a set of new Sustainable Development Goals. How far climate change is recognised in the new goals is still being negotiated. CAFOD is already involved, getting our overseas partners’ concerns heard at the highest level.

Next is Paris. By the end of 2015, all countries need to agree how they will cut carbon emissions and what collective action they will take to respond to the impact of changes in the climate (for instance, what funding they will provide to enable developing countries to cope with adapting to change).

Each country will make a pledge saying what they will do about climate change. The UK will pledge as part of the European Union.

Discussions have already started; some of the main pledges are expected to be agreed by March. The global deal itself needs to be thrashed out at a fortnight-long meeting called the COP 21 (Conference of the Parties) in Paris in December 2015.

For the sake of the communities that we work with, the deal needs to be ambitious, binding and fair to the poorest people.

Take action today and email party leaders telling them why you care about climate change.

Continue reading “Seven (and a half) reasons 2015 is the year for action on climate change”