Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Caribbean Sea on the east. With lush valleys and rainforests, stunning mountains, lakes and volcanoes, picturesque beaches, and Spanish-colonial towns, Nicaragua is seeing a boom in tourism.
Despite this, Nicaragua is also the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti, and its population struggles with poor access to education, employment, clean water and health services.
Around three-quarters of the people here live on less than $2 a day, according to the United Nations, and on average, Nicaraguans complete less than five years of school. This has left nearly 25 percent of the population illiterate, according to UNESCO, and forced 15 percent of children between five and 15 into some sort of child labor.
Free The Children has a rich history in Nicaragua dating from the late 1990s. In response to the country’s continued need, Free The Children is now partnering with several communities in the Central Pacific Region to eliminate the obstacles that prevent children from accessing education.
Sustainability is the goal of Adopt a Village. From the very beginning, we work closely with community leaders, families, educators and students to ensure that the local community is empowered and given ownership over each Adopt a Village project, whether that’s a school building, school group, clean water well or alternative income project. Together we:
Here are some of the projects we are proud to partner on in Nicaragua.
While primary school in Nicaragua is free and compulsory, poor children living in remotes part of the country – especially those forced into labor – still face huge barriers to accessing quality education. This is where Free The Children helps by:
There is huge disparity in access to safe water between urban and rural communities. In rural Nicaragua, somewhere between 63 and 80 percent of people lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation, resulting in the deaths of around 300 children each year, according to wateraid.org. Water-related diseases have a huge impact on the health and productivity of children, their parents, and their communities. Women and girls are usually responsible for fetching water, leaving little time for mothers to work or girls to go to school. We help by partnering to provide:
Lack of clean water and nutritious food leaves many low-income people in rural Nicaragua in chronically poor health. The country suffers from a high rate of malaria and other parasitic diseases, and malnutrition. Lack of health services for the rural population, coupled with the cost of seeking medical treatment, is a huge barrier to health and wellbeing. According to the World Health Organization, infant and maternal mortality are high in rural and indigenous communities. Children often die of respiratory diseases, malnutrition and diarrhea. We help by partnering to provide health workshops.
Rapid economic development and deforestation are taking a toll on Nicaragua’s potential for prosperous agriculture programs, and the ability to of rural communities to grow food. We help by building:
Empowering the people in rural Nicaragua with the tools they need to improve their ability to earn an income is a key Adopt a Village pillar. We help by providing:
El Trapiche is a very small, rural 100 percent Mestizo community – a term used in Nicaragua to describe people of mixed Latin American and Spanish decent.
Before Free The Children partnered with El Trapiche, the closest school was in a town four kilometers away—a 40 minute walk through a canyon that fills with water up to three meters high during the rainy season from May till November. No surprise: parents stopped sending their young children to school, although they supported the importance of education.
The first priority: building classrooms. Together, Free The Children and the community built the first primary school including a hand-washing station, clean water system, latrines and a school garden. Children are now enrolled in pre-school and grades 1 through 6.
Alternative Income and Livelihood programing followed including the community’s first-ever women’s group formed to create income opportunities for women in the community.