Team Gracias finally arrived at our home for the next eight weeks on the 10th after meeting the nine national volunteers and our partner organisation, Red COMAL in the town of Siguatapeque the day before. We've been settled in Gracias for just over a week now and while the girls took a little getting used to the indigenous wildlife sharing our houses with us, after a few days the screaming that accompanied a cockroach sighting was replaced by the sound of a stomping boot. 

Over the next eight weeks we'll be working in the nearby communities of Catatao, El Tablon, Altos de Guanteque and La Azomada - where we spent most of this week. In these communities we'll be working on varied activities aimed to mitigate the causes and effects of climate change and encourage environmental sustainability. Honduras is one of the countries hardest hit by climate change and these relatively poor communities bear the brunt of the impact. Many people in the communities speak of seeing the effects first-hand as their crops and livelihoods have been hugely reduced. To try to halt this decline we'll be working with Red COMAL to improve the water management systems and agricultural production in the communities, along with raising awareness by hosting our own radio show on the local community radio. A live one hour show, spoken all in Spanish and broadcast to ten thousand. Our first show is in a week`s time and needless to say, we're a little nervous.

Our task for the first week involved what seems to be the Honduran national pastime: festivals. On only our second day in Gracias El Festival de la Nina – The Festival of the Little Girl took place. Its aim was to inspire girls to get a good education and consider a profession. A band paraded through the park, and a 'pageant' was set up where different girls declared their ambitions. 

This helped prepare us for our work in El Festival de la Semillas del Futuro - The Festival of the Seeds of the Future, which was organised by Red COMAL in La Azomada to promote the use of indigenous seeds within the community without the use of artificial fertilisers. Our role was to take part in a short drama, in which I was to finally realise my destiny as a dramatic genius. Alas, I was struck down by illness and had to sit out the rehearsals, so the show had to go on without me. Instructed by the understated director of the play, named Mega, the volunteers were repeatedly drilled until they could recite the lines in their sleep. The short play aimed to raise awareness of the dangers of littering and pesticides. The volunteers covered themselves in mud to play the part of microorganism and performed in front of upwards of 250 people. We followed on this by giving the national volunteers an English lesson and in return we got a Spanish lesson.

So that's team Gracias, settling in and starting to get our hands dirty.

Written by ICS volunteer Daniel Fine