It’s the end of the visit of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers to Nicaragua. Here are the thoughts of Kate and Steph as they prepare to return to the UK:
We have seen and experienced Nicaragua in so many ways these past few weeks, and to put it into words is a daunting task.
My reasons for joining CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme at the beginning of the year were: I have been a long term supporter of CAFOD’s work, I have helped in fundraising, been a Young Leader helping out at events such as Flame and done work experience at Romero House. So it really seemed like a natural progression to spend a year out of education expanding my knowledge of CAFOD and learning more about their work in the developing world before heading off to university to study International Development. But over the past 6 months, this year has become less about myself and more about those around me. I am extremely fortunate to spend a year with nine of the most hardworking, dedicated and passionate people that I have ever met. They have truly changed my life in more ways than one and I have been lucky enough to go to Nicaragua with three of them. I can honestly say I have made friends for life. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Saying goodbye to Nicaragua”
CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers in Nicaragua – Kate, Chris, Bernie, and Step – have come to the end of their time with the Sisters of the Guardian Angels. They’ve each picked a photograph to reflect on the experiences that have stayed with them the most from their week:
Chris, Bernie, Kate, and Steph from CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme have written about their week with the Sisters of the Guardian Angel, who work to support young people in Nicaragua.
We have just spent a week with The Sisters of the Guardian Angel. They have been involved with CAFOD for many years and work in many communities around Managua and the surrounding regions. They run a three-year youth leadership diploma programme for young adults based on practical experience of helping to lead youth groups and children’s groups. The training is enhanced by CAFOD’s support of Envio, a monthly magazine on social and justice issues and workshops that explore current affairs affecting Nicaragua and the rest of Central America. The youth leaders are encouraged to go along to the workshops whenever they can.
Kate is one of CAFOD’s gap year and is currently based with Just Youth in Salford. She has been visiting communities supported by CAFOD in Nicaragua, from where she has sent this blog:
This week we had the chance to work closely with ASOMUPRO one of CAFOD’s partners out here in Nicaragua, they are an Association of Women Producers working out in the most rural areas of Nicaragua to give employment and strengthen the hope to the women of Nicaragua.
The slogan of ASOMUPRO is “LAS GAVIOTAS” translated into English it means “Seagulls,” it could be seen as a very strange slogan, however there is a lot of meaning behind it.
And the meaning is that everyone working for ASOMUPRO are like geese, they work in a V formation. The idea behind this formation is that the front bird leads and when they get tired they set themselves back and someone else takes up their place. Geese all stick together and drive themselves forward. ASOMUPRO are a team, they work together, share common values and are lifted by the enthusiasm and energy of each other. This is why this is the slogan for ASOMUPRO. This was by far the overriding theme of the week. The women we met gave up their time to talk to us about the work of ASOMUPRO and how ASOMUPRO have greatly helped their lives. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Nicaragua – “Together we can achieve more””
Bernadette is one ofCAFOD‘s Step into the Gap volunteers. She’s currently working as a chaplain at St. Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool and is visiting CAFOD partners in Nicaragua.
Hola from Nicaragua. There is so much I want to share with you already and I think the easiest way is to give you an insight into the trip so far to give people a whole view of the experience. So here goes, when I said in my pre blog about looking forward to the opportunity to see the work that CAFOD is involved in I never realised how much I would experience so quickly.
On our first full day in Managua, the capital city, we headed out as a group to meet the Central America CAFOD team based here in Managua. This was an opportunity to find out about what the team here focuses on, not only in Nicaragua but throughout Central America. We spent time looking at various aspects such as the work around gender and HIV, livelihoods, human rights and weather.
Chrisis one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers working for the Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle. He’s currently in Nicaragua to see CAFOD’s work and has sent back this blog:
“How can one person make a difference in the world?” It is a hard question to answer.
At the start of our trip Vicky, one of our kind accompaniers, explained to us how ASOMUPRO – the association of women producers who we spent the week with – starts making a difference with the women they work with. They do this by giving women the opportunity to start believing in themselves. ASOMUPRO says that in the Nicaraguan machista society, once women start saying “I can” that is half the battle won. And it is surprising how much the phrase “I can” came up throughout our week with ASOMUPRO.
Here is one of the stories of those people affected by ASOMUPRO, this will hopefully give you an insight into their work, on a personal level.
Steph is spending a year as a Step into the Gap volunteer for CAFOD and is working at Good Shepherd parish in Nelson, Lancashire. Here is an update on her visit to Nicaragua.
We have just come back from an amazing few days staying in rural Nicaragua up by the Honduras border. We stayed with Elizabeth on her family farm called ‘Gracias a Dios’ (Thanks to God). Elizabeth works for ASOMUPRO, one of CAFOD’s partners, so she was our guide for the week. She lives with her parents; Dona Ada and Don Angel, her two younger sisters, her cousin and her brother, his wife and their son Arron on a gorgeous farm complete with pigs, cows, horses, a donkey, hens and dogs!
Elizabeth is a technical support worker, someone who visits the surrounding communities where ASOMUPRO works. She is the local communication link with the main office in Managua as well as the more local office in Esteli (still three hours’ drive away). She checks up to see how they’re getting on, to provide support and communicate any training they might want to go to. Locally she works with the Natoso bee keeping women, the kitchen garden women in San Fernando and Dona Helen in Jicaro as well as many other groups.
All the girls, (six of us as we had Bryanna, an intern at ASOMUPRO travelling with us also) shared one room, while Chris and Marvin (our driver for the week) had their own. Mosquito nets were vital here so imagine six individual nets up in one room, sleep walking was not an option for Vicky!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.