Nicaragua Country Profile
Nicaragua is renowned for its landscapes, flora and fauna, culture, beaches, lakes and volcanoes. Civil war, dicatorship and natural disaster have sadly left Nicaragua as one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere.
Nicaragua Facts & Figures
- Land area: 129,494 sq km
- Capital: Managua
- Population: 5.57 million
- Infant Mortality: 28.11 / 1000
- Literacy: 67.2%
- Below poverty line: 50%
Children’s Lives in Nicaragua
A survey by the US Department of Labor in 2000 estimated that almost 10% of children under 14 worked to earn a living. In rural areas, children work in the production of export crops such as coffee or tobacco, as well as in fishing, stockbreeding and mining. In urban areas, children work on the streets selling merchandise, cleaning car windows, or begging. Some children are forced by their parents to beg, and some are “rented” out by their parents to organized groups of beggars. Child prostitution is a widespread problem in Nicaragua, particularly in Managua, port cities, along the Honduran and Costa Rican borders, and near highways. More about Children’s Lives in Nicaragua.
Casa Alianza Nicaragua
In response to thousands of vulnerable children living on the streets in Nicaragua, Casa Alianza began a programme in January 1998 to work with children at risk. Our first crisis centre and an additional transition centre were opened later that year. We expanded again in 2001 to open a “Mothers and Babies” centre to look after young mothers who were looking after their babies on the street and for pregnant teenage girls.
Today, Casa Alianza Nicaragua works with an average of 5,000 street children a year. Many of these are the victims of sexual exploitation or were trafficked for sexual purposes. The vast majority have problems with addiction, have broken family ties and all are considered to be at high risk.
Following an award from the Conrad N Hilton Foundation, the prize money was donated to Nicaragua and was used to construct a new residential centre. Within this “home”, we provide specialist services to street children which include:
- help in overcoming addictions
- screening for and support for children with HIV/AIDS
- medical and psychological attention
- social work
- legal advice and support
- family and social reintegration and a parenting school.
Street kids often come to us in crisis and it can take a long time to rebuild trust and to get children to start being children again. Simple activities such as art therapy, music and dance can really help children in their transition away from the street.