Nicaragua and Newman Day

I love seeing young people rising to a challenge, expressing their thoughts, asking questions and seeing possibilities in the future.

The Newman Day at Cardinal Newman College in Preston saw the students at their best.

Workshops throughout the day included those led by CAFOD youth volunteers.  Those of you who worked with Terry will remember the discussion sparked by Beyonce’s I was here.  Yes, she can make a difference by highlighting global issues on World Humanitarian Day because of who she is, but so can you.

The workshop led by Anne introduced the Hungry for Change campaign to students.  One in eight people across the globe will go hungry today.  And yet there’s enough food for everyone.  Crazy. Look out for more actions and news around this as the CAFOD Group in college are taking this forward.

The CAFOD group, along with many other students, were lucky enough to meet Winston Berrios, CAFOD’s Programme Manager from Nicaragua.  Winston explained something of the work CAFOD does across Central America.

Disaster Risk Reduction was a new idea to many: training people to prepare for a natural disaster and showing them ways to minimise the risks and to cope better when a disaster happens.  In the last 12 months alone, they have experienced 7 natural disasters.

He told us how he is sent warnings for imminent disasters such as hurricanes, so he then can cascade that warning to the communities who can put their training into practice.  In fact, during one of the sessions, he received an earthquake alert (for Guatemala!) on his mobile phone!!

Floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, storms, hurricanes and earthquakes – they’re happening with increasing and alarming frequency in Central America.

Young Nicaraguans in a training exercise, learning how to evacuate

Winston explained that much of the Disaster Risk Reduction work is done with young people.  They prepare strategies to put into action when there’s a natural disaster on the horizon. They train in how to evacuate a community away from a dangerous area during a natural disaster.  They’re trained in first aid and in using a zip wire to transport the injured to safety.  It sounded a bit scary – but we were all impressed at how much young people are doing to look after each other in Nicaragua!

One of the greatest shocks to the students was the sheer inequality people face in parts of Central America, eg how a small minority of the rich own and control huge amounts of land.  ‘It’s not fair’ came to mind pretty quickly.

Winston Berrios, front row far right, with members of the CAFOD Group at Newman College in Preston

It’s good to know that through the work of CAFOD many of these issues are being addressed, but there’s much to be done, which is why we never tire to challenge poverty and injustice.


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