Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti. About 80% of the people live in poverty, and more than half of those are extremely poor – meaning they don’t know if they’ll eat today. The country has long been plagued by natural disasters, corrupt politicians, and rampant illiteracy.
The Managua city dump was quite literally home to about 175 families. They spent their days looking for food to eat, and recyclable materials they could sell. The families lived in and around the smoldering garbage in shacks consisting of corrugated tin, cardboard and black plastic.
Project Chacocente began in January 2003, working to completely transform lives by relocating families from the dump to an agricultural community about an hour from Managua. The families signed a 5-year contract promising to work with us, learning the skills they needed to be independent: to read and write, to build a home, to farm, to solve problems, to govern themselves, to be more knowledgeable parents, and to start small businesses. Each family now owns the house that they built, along with two acres of arable land.
Recognizing that education is the key to overcoming poverty, the Chacocente Christian School was founded on-site in 2005. It gives families at Project Chacocente and its surrounding area an alternative to the abysmal public education system offered in Nicaragua. The school presently serves 152 children, and has grown to house classes for preschool through high school. It teaches a broad range of subjects, giving students opportunities that prepare them for successful futures.