Nicaragua is a country of 6.5 million people, where scenic beauty is contrasted by the harsh reality of extreme poverty. The difficulties of living in conditions of chronic poverty are inconceivable in the developed world. Every day, basic survival is a challenge for thousands of Nicaraguan families in rural and urban communities where deficient public services and infrastructure are the norm.
Despite improvements in recent years, Nicaragua is still the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti. In the rural and urban communities that we serve, nearly 75% of all families are living in poverty. The social and political crisis of 2018, coupled with the current global pandemic have decimated Nicaragua’s economy and caused poverty rates to increase. Thousands of families are struggling to cover basic needs such as food, health and education for their children.
The impact of poverty on the Nicaraguan culture is profound. The average adult in Nicaragua has only five years of formal education and only half of all primary students manage to finish the sixth grade. Only 20% of all students are able to earn a high school degree, which limits their future earning potential. One of the greatest impediments that children face is malnutrition, which reduces learning capacity and makes them more susceptible to common pathologies.
In short, poverty is crippling, but we are dedicated to implementing programs that respond to the spiritual, physical, emotional and intellectual needs of children and their families. Our development strategies are designed through participatory processes and built on a foundation of faith in God’s unconditional love. With the grace of God and your help, we can make it possible for Nicaraguan children and their families to create a brighter future.
Matagalpa is a small city with a population of 150,000, located in the Isabella mountain range in northern Nicaragua. The majority of Nicaragua’s coffee, the country’s primary export crop, is grown in this region. Although the coffee industry generates substantial wealth for plantation owners and exporters, it also contributes to conditions of extreme and chronic poverty in the region.
According to the World Health Organization, 74% of Matagalpa’s population lives in poverty, including 46.3% in extreme poverty. The children, adolescents and families in Matagalpa face great challenges every day. Health and education services are limited and economic opportunities are scarce. We have worked with local partners and community leaders to identify the most precarious rural and urban communities where our services are most needed.
We currently serve eighteen communities, where we implement our Spiritual Growth, Educational Quality, Integral Community Health, Youth in Action and Community Development programs. The challenges in these communities can be overwhelming, as we deal with high migration rates, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, teen pregnancy and food insecurity. Although the conditions can sometimes seem bleak, our programs offer a ray of light to children and their families, the light of God’s love.