By now most of you reading this article will have received your Trocaire Box for 2017. During the first week of November past I had the privilege of being part of a ten strong delegation of Trocaire Representatives from throughout Ireland who visited the Central American country of Honduras. It was a trip organised in preparation for this year's Lenten campaign which focuses on Honduras and the effects of Climate Change on coastal communities.
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Central America, with approximately one million households living below the poverty line. It is particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, and was the worst-affected country in the world from 1993 to 2014. During this period of time, at least 65 extreme weather events affected Honduras, including six of the twelve strongest hurricanes of the 20th century. In October 1998, Honduras was hit by Hurricane Mitch, resulting in more than 10,000 deaths, devastation of the country's infrastructure and drinking water network, and extensive crop losses.
As we journeyed from Dublin to Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras, the words of Pope Francis in Laudato Si on Climate Change were very relevant to us,
"Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day." (Laudato Si, 25).
These articles are an attempt to give a quick snapshot of our few days in Honduras which reflects how Trocaire works on the ground throughout the world carrying out its mandate- WORKING FOR A JUST WORLD. It is a call to all of us during our own personal Lenten journeys to reach out in 'trocaire' to our brothers and sisters across the world.
The diary begins having completed our journey to Honduras via Newark and Houston.
Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 25
DAY ONE- FRIDAY 4th NOVEMBER 2016
The Trocaire trip to Honduras has begun. Almost immediately on arrival we made our way to the Trocaire offices in the city in the afternoon and then to a community on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. Here we saw the results of the work of Trocaire's partner organisation AYO (Alternativas y Oportunidades) who reach out to Women suffering Gender Based Violence and helping adolescents to avoid gangs and violence and also to educate them about domestic violence. We met some very impressive women and young people who shared their hopes and dreams for the future and their gratefulness for the support from Trocaire and Ireland.
DAY TWO SATURDAY 5th NOVEMBER 2016
We left our hotel in Tegucigalpa at 5.50am and headed to the airport for our flight to San Pedro Sula, the economic and business capital of Honduras and then drove onto the main port of Honduras, Puerto Cortes and then on to the main event of the day if not of the whole visit.
We came to meet the people of the sandbar communities of Cuyamel who due to the encroaching sea caused by climate change live a precarious and dangerous existence trying to avoid floods which overwhelm the communities from the sea in front and river behind. The community must relocate due to the constantly rising sea and river levels.
We listened to community concerns and hopes for the future as well as how they manage evacuations and organise Disaster Preparedness when the tide comes in during storms or heavy rains.
We then made our way to the home of Miriam and her daughter Maria who feature on the Trocaire box in this year's Lenten campaign. Their home is under threat from the encroaching sea. The beach which was once 800 meters wide is down to 35 meters and losing a metre and a half a year. We also saw their neighbours' houses now abandoned due to the dangers of the encroaching sea and river behind. ( Miriam and Maria are pictured on your Trocaire box standing in front of some of their neighbours destroyed homes)
After this visit we then took a trip by boat down the river escape route used during emergencies.
The final part of the day was meeting a group in Cuyamel called Defensa del Rio who are fighting to save the river running through their communities which are being run dry by Hydro electric dams already in place and one further one planned which may reduce a once proud river and life blood of the towns and villages on its path to a trickle. Trocaire help them in advocacy work.
DAY THREE SUNDAY 6th NOVEMBER 2016
Our Sunday began with breakfast in our hotel with Christmas decorations all around us, then concelebrated mass in Sacred Heart Church in Puerto Cortes where I addressed the congregation in Spanish on the work of Trocaire.
We then drove a couple hours to the city of La Ceiba on the north coast where we met with the local bishop an Irish Franciscan Bishop Michael Lenihan from Limerick where we discussed the challenges facing the people in this diocese. Looking forward to further visits tomorrow to communities effected by the exploitation of natural resources and then back by plane to Tegucigalpa.