My name is Norman and I live in Honduras. I was 15 years old when I first experienced the devastating force of a hurricane. Hurricane Mitch hit Central America in 1998, causing more than 10,000 deaths and leaving over a million people homeless.
From that moment, a fear of the rain grew in me. I only became fully aware of this fear last year, when two hurricanes hit the country within two weeks, affecting more than 4 million people. Never did I imagine that would happen.
But our climate has changed: this plays a key role in these extreme events. It creates warmer temperatures on the sea’s surface, which are intensifying the strength and frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes in our region.
Rain has become a threat. Whenever I hear rain, I fear what’s going to happen. It makes me feel sad that rain is no longer perceived as a blessing by many people and has become a cause of fear.
Central America is one of the regions that are most vulnerable to climate change, despite the fact that its communities have contributed very little to causing the problem.
When I was a teenager, I remember our pastor and his family used to take us fishing on our vacations to a fishing community on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Honduras. Not long ago, I remembered this community and asked how it was doing. I was devastated to discover that many of its inhabitants had been forced to abandon it due to the increase in the sea levels, which has caused them to lose their homes and their livelihoods.
What is even more shocking is that this community’s story is the story of thousands of other people who have been forced to leave their homes and roots because of environmental shocks, high sea levels, prolonged droughts, hurricanes and storms that have made their already difficult living conditions even worse. Entire communities have disappeared.
Events such as these, as well as the effects of the pandemic, make me realise that we are part of a global community. The decisions we make and the actions we take have an effect on others, no matter how far away they are.
For this reason, if we are to respond effectively to the changing climate, I believe we must build and embrace that sense of global community. Like the Good Samaritan in the Bible, we must reach out to the other and to the most marginalised, through generosity and by making courageous decisions that affect our own lifestyle and consumption patterns, in order to build a more equitable and sustainable world for all.
I hope and pray that, at the COP26 conference in November, decision-makers will commit to solutions that offer justice to those who have contributed little to global warming but who suffer the most. Please join me in praying for Central American communities affected by climate change and for world leaders whose decisions will affect us all.To help you pray about the climate crisis and those most affected, you can find resources here. If you’d like to learn more about the impact of the climate crisis in Honduras, please watch this short video.