Opinion: Helping to alleviate effects of climate change

Nela Blinkhorn, 19 and colleagues from Raleigh International in Nicaragua.
Nela Blinkhorn, 19 and colleagues from Raleigh International in Nicaragua.

Last spring, I volunteered in Nicaragua for three months with sustainable development charity Raleigh International.

I was part of a cross-cultural team who worked with young entrepreneurs in a very rural, poverty stricken area.

We prepared presentations and lessons on the basics of finance and marketing and worked with them to create ideas on how to expand.

We were not only giving them valuable information to help them develop, but also inspiration and motivation.

Raleigh ensures that they make a difference to people’s lives by sending young people to relate with and inspire other young people. I worked with a wonderful woman named Doris who makes tacos and sells them in a few small communities where she lives, near the Honduran border. I encouraged her to keep track of her finances, and with that knowledge, make a successful application for money to increase the scale of her business, and even start a new one of sales of basic grains.

We gave all the entrepreneurs the motivation to be organised and ambitious with their businesses. We impacted individuals and their families, showing them what they can do to change their lives.

I learnt, that in development, you start small. In the case of my project with Raleigh, we showed how a few young men and women can be entrepreneurs, and children and families in the communities saw this too.

Raleigh don’t give material help, they create a mind-set that can be passed on.

I, as a volunteer, learnt how I can make a difference, and I made myself more aware of global issues. My attention came to climate change, I saw with my own eyes how increasingly severe droughts affected the poor communities in Nicaragua who depend on bean and maize crops for work and food. It’s not even them who are contributing to global warming in any way as seriously as developed countries.

I realised that we need to do something to help our planet.

The Paris Agreement is not enough to prevent a rise in temperature which will adversely affect people all over the world.

There are homes which will go under when the sea levels rise, and people who may not survive another prolonged drought. I want governments to act, but I can’t make that happen by myself. However, there are small things we can do as individuals. We need to reduce our energy demand and carbon footprint.

We should drive more efficient cars, and use alternative electrical appliances, which use less energy and so release less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

We must do whatever we can to alleviate the effects of climate change on people in poverty.

What can you do?