LAURA K- GUARUMA – HONDURAS
“Environmental Protection is a question of choice”
Jóvenes Hondureños por el Desarrollo Educativo (GUARUMA – Young Hondurans for Educational Development) is a non-profit organization that promotes environmental awareness and conservation through educational programs in the River Cangrejal watershed on the eastern edge of “Pico Bonito National Park”. As an organization GUARUMA promotes rural development and natural resource conservation through a multidimensional education program. GUARUMA works towards community development and environmental education engaging local youth and adults as active participants in the protection of the local environment. GUARUMA’s vision is to raise environmental consciousness and conservation efforts through education, targeting children in ecological hotspots. Using the latest technology in digital photography and computer sciences, GUARUMA’s educational program has a unique disposition. Involving the student through the exciting use of multi-media is strengthened by the philosophy of ecological responsibility.
MY NAME IS
Laura and in January of this year I came to Honduras with ICYE-UK to volunteer for Guaruma, an environmental organisation working in the valley of the Cangreal River just outside of La Ceiba, Honduras.
THE PROJECT WORKS
with the rural communities dotted along the edge of Pico Bonito National Park –an area that spans a vast 107,300 hectares of land and the second largest protected area in Honduras. Comprising of 20 river systems and dense unexplored jungles and cloud forests it is thought that the park is home to species of animals rarely found in other parts of Honduras. As an organisation we run a number of community education projects. Predominantly we work with children and through photography, environmental and computer classes the students are encouraged to tell powerful stories about their lives and the stories are there to be told in abundance.
an extremely poor country, consistently hindered by large amounts of international debt and corruption. 80% of the people of Honduras live below the poverty line. Nearly half the workforce survives by working the land although a large % of land remaining in the hands of either the government or large foreign fruit companies. Here we see a pattern that repeats the world over, one that highlights how in many developing nations the lands rarely lies in the hands, and to the benefit of those who so desperately need it.
AS I LIVE AND WORK IN EL PITAL
one of the many communities in the valley, I become more closely acquainted and implicated with these issues. At night we hear whispers of ‘burnings,’ men leave at the break of day to hike steep trails to burn vast stretches of forest. Two weeks ago a student took us on a hike up a trail at the back of the village high up the hillside to a bare and stretch of hillside sporting a few tomato plants. I can guess that the tomatoes I will buy tomorrow in my local “pulperia” (octopus shop) were probably farmed this way. These sharp hillsides in the valley often represent the only choices for local people trying to feed themselves and their families. Very soon the rains and the villages become impassable mudslides as water runs off deforested hillsides. My neighbour lost his wife two years ago when a huge amount of mud slid down the hillside and buried his house.
IN HONDURAS I HAVE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO
participate in cultural exchange I have come to see that for many in the developed world, environmental protection is a question of choice. We benefit from societies, governments and economies that are able to support and facilitate these choices and with so much freedom and so many choices laid before us, we are still for the most part unable to make the smallest of concessions and changes in our lives. We need to consider what part we are going to play in environmental protection but also we need to consider the huge responsibilities that we are currently asking of people who have so fewer choices to take.