» Why Nicaragua?
A beautiful country, wonderful people, and a dynamic culture -
Support Nicaragua's efforts to achieve social justice, alleviate poverty, and promote sustainable development
Nicaragua is the poorest Central American country,
with 43.8% of the population living below the poverty line. Government resources are not enough to improve the country’s crumbling infrastructure and improve people’s access to formal employment, potable water, education, and adequate health care. The country has some of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality, infectious diseases, and illiteracy in all of Latin America. The conditions of poverty feed social problems such as teenage pregnancy, sexual and physical violence, emigration, and alcohol and drug abuse. With limited resources, the government recognizes and depends upon the efforts of non-governmental and international aid organizations to confront the multi-faceted problems of poverty and underdevelopment.
COMMUNITY FOCUS: Granada
Many of Viva Nicaragua’! interns work in the city of Granada. Granada is a colonial town on the edge of Lake Nicaragua and has been restored, preserved, and promoted as one of Nicaragua’s primary tourist destinations. It is a beautiful city, with hotels and restaurants that cater to the desires of the many tourists that visit Granada every year. While the tourist facade serves to keep many visitors oblivious to the extreme poverty that exists in the city, it does not erase the stark reality of the poor socio-economic conditions in which many of Granada’s residents live.
In many ways tourism has only exacerbated Granada’s social and economic problems. Property values have more than tripled, forcing people to live in overcrowded conditions with several families in one house. Marginalized communities and squatter settlements are abundant in the areas surrounding Granada’s tourist center. The work generated by tourism is only available to those with higher education and skills such as English and computation, and low wages of $70 per month do not even cover rent, which in Granada now averages $150 per month. While the tourist center almost always has running water, surrounding communities go days without water, posing a severe threat to public health. Children, instead of studying, work informally selling crafts to or begging from tourists in order to help provide for their families. Sex-tourism, often involving minors, has unfortunately become one of the reasons why some tourists visit Granada.
While working on a project targeted at adolescent girls in Granada, I visited a poor neighborhood known as La Gran China, located about 3 blocks from the tourist center. The small dirt-floored adobe houses were crumbling and overcrowded with as many as three families per dwelling. Soapy water filled the makeshift gutters and garbage sat in piles ready to be burned. When I entered the community, the neighborhood children ran to greet me. “Money, Money chela”. When they realized that I could speak Spanish, they all started asking me questions. “Where are you from, do you have a boyfriend? Do you have kids?”. And then one boy, with the body of a nine year old but the mannerisms of a nineteen year old asked me, “do you have a refrigerator?” Not, “do you have a car or do you have a stereo?” But, “do you have refrigerator? “ This one question put the entire situation, the real living conditions of this community, into perspective.
We collaborate with efforts throughout Granada – from the semi-urban tourist center, to the marginalized barrios, to the more rural municipalities of Naindaime, Diria, and Diriomo.
We also work with organizations in urban and rural areas in the departments of Rivas and Masaya.
GENERAL DEVELOPMENT INDICATORS
While Nicaragua has had a turbulent history, the country today is very pacific and is one of the safest Central American countries. Of course, when traveling abroad, visitors should take certain precautions. Viva Nicaragua ! staff provides complete safety and security information and assistance in the event of any problem.
Questions? Contact us!
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