The future we envision for the children of our barrio, the poorest of the poor, is of a different life – a life with a bright future.
The future of the children of the underserved Pantanal community before Plus arrived was bleak – past trends have led to only 3 in 10 students finishing high school, and of these 3 only 1 individual makes it on to a university education. This lack of education contributes to generation after generation of families living in dire poverty largely because of a resulting lack of economic opportunities. For these families, who can often barely afford to feed their children, the cost of school supplies can be prohibitive. Morevoer, many of the children of our community are taken out of school and sent out by their parents to beg, sell tourist trinkets, or even be underage prostitutes in the streets in order to earn money for the family. Others sometimes turn to drugs and glue sniffing, enhancing the detrimental effects of dropping even further. The fundamental reasons for poverty in the community are essentially threefold: a lack of job opportunities for the parents, lack of education, and the basic problem of hunger.
These are all issues Education Plus Nicaragua has set out to tackle. We are a holistic community development organization that, little by little, is changing the conditions in our community. We are a small, locally run organization which aims to truly change the futures of the children we are charged with. We aim to grow in the quality of the services that we provide, and not in numbers. Every staff member works on a voluntary basis. The future we are creating is one in which glue addiction is a problem of the past and our 13 year old girls go to university instead of prostitution; one in which no child drops out of school because of hunger and lack of resources; one where every child has the opportunity to become what they dream of being, and where they in turn become capable of lifting their barrio out of poverty.
By providing food, we are able to fight against drug addiction and debilitating malnutrition, and by getting to know the children from the time they are young, we are able to have a stronger moral influence. We are also fighting malnutrition - many of the children who were formally severely malnourished now show increased energy and pigmentation has returned to their hair.
dream and a chance conversation between local nighttime policeman Erwind Roque and a generous English traveler in the central park of Granada in 2006. Recognizing the problem of “ninos de la calle” -street children- dominating the barrio, this team of two established a basic community program to provide an alternative for these children, providing meals and classes in an abandoned lot when funding allowed.
Ours are the forgotten children, the children who no one else cared about. The children that quietly languished in the shadows, hungry and slowly dropping out of school, one by one. The children of Pantanal are the ones that a tourist to Granada may consider annoying street beggars, hopeless causes. But they are not hopeless. They are beautiful souls that desire so much to learn. They are bright children that line up and beg for homework. They are the children that plead for just one more banana from school, because they don’t know when they will be able to eat again. But when they have food and love, they dance and laugh and sing like all the other children across the world.