Monday April 22nd marks Earth Day 2013, an annual event demonstrating support for worldwide environmental protection in the face of the devastating effects of climate change. It is celebrated in 192 countries annually but nowhere can it be more potent than in Honduras, the country ranked #1 in the Climate Risk Index 2013, which analyses the countries most susceptible to and affected by extreme weather conditions. Between 1992 and 2011 there have been 60 events of extreme and abnormal weather in Honduras – the most notorious of which being Hurricane Mitch in 1998 – which have devastated land and livelihoods and taken lives, and the problem is only set to worsen. 

With climate change knocking on their door, the people of Marcala – and, in particular, the schoolchildren – came out in full force to celebrate Earth Day. The students from all of the schools and colleges in the urban zone of Marcala, public and private, united in the Earth Day Parade.  Their imagination, as well as Honduran culture blaring through costumes hand-made from recycled materials, traditional singing and dancing and exhibitions of items made from re-used materials. The message of thousands of children, teachers and parents alongside community officials resonated not only through their banners, but also through their unity.

The passion that the children of Marco Aurelio School have for the topic of the environment was not only shown through their part in the parade itself, nor through the creativity and thoughtfulness that went into the making of each recycled item, but also through their eagerness to partake in the session led by the Progressio ICS volunteers at the school on Friday morning. They threw themselves into an assault course with the underlying theme of conserving water, an English lesson on the topic of nature and into an arts and crafts exercise combined with the science behind volcanoes. Growing up in a country so threatened by environmental issues clearly has a huge impact on the children of Honduras, with Earth Day being a perfect opportunity to broadcast their feelings and ideas. 

A recent study of the Economics of Climate Change in Central America predicts that there will be a drop in agricultural production of 9% by the year 2100 due to changes in climate. In a country like Honduras, where agriculture amounts for 39.2% of the workforce, this fall in production could have devastating effects on the population, pushing more and more people into poverty. Even behind the singing and dancing, drums, costumes and stalls, the message of the Earth Day Parade was clear: the future of the Earth is in our hands. 

Blog written by Emma Justice
Photos by Katie Sims