Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, approximately the size of New York state. It is neighbored by Honduras and Costa Rica, bordered on the east by the Caribbean Sea and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Its geography is stunning, yet tumultuous. With the largest lake in Central America and more than twenty volcanic peaks, Nicaragua is often called “the land of lakes and volcanoes.” Due to its location, Nicaragua is vulnerable to the hurricanes that plague the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans. In 1972, an earthquake devastated Managua–killing 10,000 people and leaving only 2 buildings standing. Again in 1998, Hurricane Mitch tore through the country, destroying countless buildings and infrastructures, not to mention claiming thousands of lives. Today, Nicaraguans are still recovering from this national devastation.
Nicaragua’s history is fraught with conflict and warfare. After decades of dictatorship, and external and internal power disputes, the country became a democracy in 1990. As a democratic republic, the nation has experienced some long-awaited political peace.
The impact of natural devastation and political turmoil takes its toll on the people of the country. Nicaragua is the poorest Spanish-speaking country in the world. It is the 2nd poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with Haiti being the first. According to the World Bank, 43% of the population lives on less than $2 per day. It is understood that 45% to 65% of all Nicaraguans are either unemployed or underemployed.
With a population of 6 million people, 53% being age 18 or less, the country’s poverty most severely affects women and children. This plays out in statistics from the U.N. that says, “1 of every 3 Nicaraguan children is malnourished.” Everyone needs to work which means children cannot go to school. The U.N. says that only 48% of the children graduate from the 6th grade. Extreme poverty and a lack of education also take a toll on young girls. One out of every 4 children is born to a teenage mother. 13% are born to a girl between the ages of 10 and 14.
So Why Nicaragua?
Nicaragua is a country of great hope and potential. ORPHANetwork believes that by investing in the children of Nicaragua a different future is available. Nicaragua, in the last few years, has had a growing economy. GDP growth rates of 4.5% are the highest in Central America. Because Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America, tourism is high and investment from foreign countries in the economy is growing. In 2014, Direct Foreign Investment in Nicaragua was $1.5 Billion. It was recently reported that Nicaragua is the 13th most popular country location for North Americans to retire. There are jobs being created and the children that ORPHANetwork serves have the potential to take those jobs.
Secondly, the church in Nicaragua is very open to using holistic tools to reach the children and help provide a hope and a future. Holistic tools such as food, clean water, health and medical assessments can be used by the local church to impact their communities. Pastors are open to using holistic tools and desire to be developed as leaders to reach their communities with hope and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is a bright future for Nicaragua where children born into poverty can have a future with hope!