Andrew J. Wight is an Australian journalist based in Medellín, Colombia. His bylines include The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, The Daily Telegraph and Nature in the U.K., and NBC News, among other outlets.

Posts By This Author

Can Coffee Cultivate Peace in Colombia?

by Andrew J. Wight 08-05-2021

Coffee farmer Aceneth Bedoya and her daughter Alejandra (foreground), rake dried natural coffee at their farm in Vereda Nazareno, Planadas, Tolima, Colombia on June 17, 2021. Andrew J. Wight for Sojourners

Alejandra Bedoya, 14, shows visitors around her family coffee farm in southwest Colombia: The steep hills are dark green with coffee bushes, the air is alive with birdsong and the coffee drying in the sun emits a sweet, rich fragrance.

Things haven’t always been tranquil in southern Tolima, which is not too far from the birthplace of the now-demobilized Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerilla group. The FARC and Colombian government were embroiled in more than 50 years of open conflict until a peace deal in 2016.

How the Faithful Are Fighting COVID in Post-Hurricane Honduras

by Andrew J. Wight 12-22-2020

Kits of aid ready at a shelter in the municipality of Choluteca, Honduras, in the weeks following Hurricanes Eta and Iota. Photo courtesy Living Water International

In the wake of two devastating November hurricanes estimated to have killed over 90 people in Honduras, church-run albergues (shelters) across the Central American country have played a key role in housing thousands of people displaced from their homes. While these shelters provide essential care, health experts from faith-based and secular NGOS alike have warned that cramped living conditions, a lack of protective equipment, and the complete disruption of victims’ lives could lead to another wave of COVID-19 in the country, even those areas far from the epicenter of the hurricane damage.

Churches Alone Can't Stop The Killing of Forest Defenders

by Andrew J. Wight 07-28-2020

Members of the Pastoral Land Commission (Comissão Pastoral da Terra, CPT), a Catholic land rights organization linked to the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil. Photo courtesy of  Comissão Pastoral da Terra, CPT.

More than 200 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2019 according to the report released by Global Witness this week. Colombia topped the country rankings with 64 deaths, while Latin America continued its 8-year run as the worst-hit region, accounting for two-thirds of global deaths.

From Synod to Scourge: Church Fights COVID-19 in Amazon Basin

by Andrew J. Wight 06-03-2020
NGO workers go by boat to the native community of Santa Teresita in Loreto region, Peru, to help with COVID-19 preparations. Photo courtesy Living Water International

At the end of May, the Amazon basin region had almost 134,000 confirmed cases and 6,883 reported COVID-19 deaths according to a Catholic Church aggregation of published official government data from the region. There were nearly 115,000 cases in the Brazilian Amazon basin alone.

Real Lockdowns and Virtual Mass: One Country's COVID Containment Strategy

by Andrew J. Wight 03-31-2020

People buy supplies in a local store after health authorities found a positive patient of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the nearby city of Metapan, in Texistepeque, El Salvador, March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

Priests, doctors, and journalists there told Sojourners the Central American country of just 6 million people has had one of the most robust responses in the world to COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Where Indigenous Women Take Lead on Land Rights, Communities Thrive

by Andrew J. Wight 03-06-2020

Indigenous women leaders gather at FENAMAD headquarters in Puerto Maldonado, Peru on Sept. 3, 2019. Photo by Andrew J Wight for Sojourners

Across the globe, women are on the front lines of protecting traditional and Indigenous land from threats like mining, ranching, and a range of other challenges – but they often struggle to have their own rights to these lands recognized and respected. But in some places, the church is stepping in.

Indigenous Women's Agro-Ecology Is Healing Guatemala's Landscape

by Andrew J. Wight 01-29-2020

A burial mound and monument to the dozens of victims of one of the Rio Negro massacres in the 1980s, in a cemetery outside Rabinal, Lower Verapaz, Guatemala, on Jan. 7, 2020. Credit: Andrew J. Wight

The rise of Indigenous-led conservation models holds promise. 

Women Forge New Path for Catholic Church in Amazon

by Andrew J. Wight 11-04-2019

Brazilian indigenous leaders proceed out of Saint Peter's Basilica after the closing mass of the Amazon synod on Oct. 27, 2019. Credit: Andrew J Wight

Indigenous women from Amazon basin nations spoke with high-level clergy at the Amazon Synod. 

Indigenous Women in the Peruvian Amazon Are Leading the Fight for Rights

by Andrew J. Wight 09-18-2019

Members of the Azaire indigenous community in their traditional dress, in front of their fish farming ponds in Madre de Dios region, Peru on Sept. 1, 2019. Credit: Andrew J Wight

More than two dozen indigenous women leaders from across the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon met to share their experiences.

Colombian Indigenous Students Blast Into Solar Future

by Andrew J. Wight 06-05-2019

Wayuú student shows the solar cell he built in a science workshop at the Ricardo Gomez School in Manaure, La Guajira, Colombia. Photo credit: Daniel López @dlopezphotography

On June 20, a rocket is scheduled to blast off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, USA, carrying a precious cargo: a solar cell science project from Nestor Epinayu, 16, and his fellow science club members from a small indigenous community in Colombia. More than just a children's science project, solar energy plays a huge role in bringing electricity to this community in La Guajira, on the border with Venezuela.

Girls’ Love of Science Takes Root in Rural Colombia

by Andrew J. Wight 03-05-2019

Daniela Benavides, 12, Anye Manco, 15, and Shirley Moreno, 15, are three of the female students in the Robotronics team at the Luis Maria Jimenez school in Aguazul municipality, Casanare, Colombia. Photos by Andrew J. Wight for Sojourners.

In an isolated part of Colombia better known for rice, pineapples, and paramilitaries, something else is taking root: the next generation of female scientists. In 2016, Colombia’s government signed a peace treaty with the FARC guerilla group to bring an end to the country’s 50-year civil conflict — but the scars and traumas of that era echo throughout the countryside. As Sojourners visited the tiny town of San José del Bubuy, in Casanare department (state), physicist turned school teacher Jhon Vega tells of some of the challenges in this new era.

In a Collapsing Venezuela, Kids Are Crossing the Border to Get an Education

by Andrew J. Wight 12-12-2018

Photo courtesy Andrew J. Wight

At the hectic border crossing between La Guajira department in Colombia and Zulia state in Venezuela, there are a surprising number of kids in school uniforms – niños pendulares, or pendulum kids.