So far we have been visiting communities around Zamorano University. This is in the highlands, up in the mountains. We have discussed social and environmental problems with local government, community members, and NGOs. It has been enlightening to see how the problems are linked and how there are not often easy solutions.
We headed to the coast today, down south to the Gulf of Fonseca. The people here live in a much more dry and hot environment. We went with a marine biologist who works with local fishing communities, dealing with shrimp farming, tilapia production, and ecosystem degradation. The people in the south do not have many opportunities for employment. We wanted to see how they survive and make a living.
We visited a shrimp processing plant where over 6,000 people benefit from the production of prawns. This private enterprise tries to make a profit and help the communities at the same time. It’s a struggle, but without the employment they provide there would not be much for people to do here. The infrastructure is lacking, and the climate can be harsh.
We visited fishing communities that rely on the daily catch to make a living. When the weather doesn’t cooperate they don’t make a living. It’s a hard life, but the difficulties are masked by the vision of paradise that we see in the soft sand and palm trees lining the beaches. Many of us asked what needs to change here. Problems are not always visible. Even though they live in tropical paradise, the opportunities presented to these communities are not the same that we enjoy. It is hard to imagine what it must be like to live in their situation, but being here and talking to them helps bring us closer to that understanding.
That is the goal of this trip, to see and understand how life is for others, and what they want to change and how that change can be brought about. It is not always easy but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to find solutions.