Thornbury Christian Aid worker to fly to Bolivia to champion the rights of Amazonian farmers
A CHARITY worker from Thornbury will witness firsthand how local donations are slowly transforming and improving the lives of Amazonian tribes on her upcoming journey to South America.
Christian Aid regional coordinator for the South West Lydia Nash, 24, will fly to Bolivia on Saturday to see how the work of its partner organisations, boosted by the funds raised by Thornbury volunteers, is helping marginalised communities not only survive, but move out of poverty as they diversify farming and secure rights to the land they have lived on for generations.
There, and until October 11, the young woman will be living among indigenous farming families in the Amazon rainforest whose land, culture and livelihoods are under threat from farming and logging.
"I have never been to South America and the type of poverty is different there to what we are used to seeing in African and Asian contexts," she said.
"Bolivia is the poorest country in South America and although indigenous people make up a majority of the population they are the ones most affected by inequality, poverty and human rights abuses," she said.
"Production is dominated by large-scale agriculture, logging and Brazil nut plantations while 25 per cent of the population lives on less than $2 per day."
Lydia will follow the work of partner group CIPCA, which teaches a range of skills to Amazonian communities, including crop diversification, animal rearing and how to put in place emergency measures against flooding or forest fires. It also provides land rights support.
Thanks to Christian Aid's support over the years, CIPCA has seen land the size of Suffolk officially granted to indigenous communities and helped average family income for cocoa farmers increase by 21 per cent.
Although, these populations' suffering and plight may be difficult to bear at first, Lydia is determined to join the fight to return to the Amazonians what is rightfully theirs.
"While there are still issues such as malnutrition and access to healthcare, in Bolivia it is more about helping people to fight for what is rightfully theirs and giving them the opportunity to survive and thrive," added Lydia.
"I know I will be heartened by seeing communities who are facing a more secure future because of funds raised by Christian Aid supporters.
"At the same time I will undoubtedly see situations which move me a great deal and I look forward to meeting with groups who would like to hear about how we can help these people who need a hand up, not a hand out."
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