Lake Nicaragua

Lake Nicaragua

Nicaragua Rural Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • Homes in the rural areas are fragile dwellings. This family uses the side of another building as one wall. The other walls and roof are made of scrap materials. Nicaragua Mother and Daughter Outside of their Home
  • A group of children from the Compassion center Elegidos de Jesús gather for a photo with the pastor of the church operating the center, José Pastrán. Nicaragua Children With Pastor Outside of Their Church
  • People in Nicaragua’s rural regions work in agriculture-based jobs, including raising cattle and small-scale farming. Some work on larger farms and ranches for a meager wage. Nicaragua Cows Walking in the Dirt
  • These boys worship God during a service at their Compassion center. Workers strive to present the gospel in child-friendly ways. Nicaragua Boys Singing During Worship
  • Children make puppets during a center activity. Workers follow an age-appropriate curriculum that helps them cover all facets of healthy child development. Nicaragua Children Working On Crafts
  • A chain of volcanoes crosses western Nicaragua. Many volcanoes are active, but none have erupted in recent years. Nicaragua Trees and Mountains

Overview: Rural Nicaragua

Rural Nicaragua has a serene, natural beauty and offers colorful culture, delicious local rice-and-bean dishes, and popular traditions such as dances and religious celebrations. People speak Spanish and typically earn a modest living by farming corn or peanuts. Those who live in lake regions also fish for a living.

According to UNICEF, nearly half of Nicaragua’s nearly 6 million people live in poverty, with 17 percent living in extreme poverty. This is further complicated by the population’s vulnerability to natural disasters, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, drought, flooding, landslides and hurricanes.

Despite a peaceful life, rural Nicaraguans experience some of the harshest poverty in the country. Many people are malnourished, lack clean drinking water, and cannot afford proper health care. During the rainy season, muddy roads make transportation challenging. Most rural residents travel by bicycle, motorcycle or horse.

Freedom of religion is provided by the Nicaraguan constitution. While the country does not have a state religion, the Roman Catholic Church is the most politically active religious institution and has significant political influence.


Culture Corner

Nicaragua Culture

Did you Know?

Baseball is the most popular sport in Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan baseball team won fourth place in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

The largest natural lake in Central America, Lake Nicaragua, is located in Nicaragua. It is the water supply for the many communities around the lake.

Since Nicaragua has two coasts on opposite sides of the country, you can swim in the Atlantic Ocean in the morning and take a dip in the Pacific in the evening!


Life in Rural Nicaragua

Of Nicaragua’s 5.7 million people, about 40 percent live in rural communities. Most rural parents work in agriculture-based jobs, either on their own small plots of land or on larger farms or cattle ranches.

In the rural regions, people live in small homes of brick or wood with roofs made of tile, corrugated metal or thatch. About one-third of rural residents lack access to safe sources of water, and two-thirds lack adequate sanitation. As a result, children often suffer from illnesses caused by contaminated water and an unsanitary environment. Such illnesses can be life-threatening.

Rural children often have to walk long distances to attend school. During the rainy season, the unpaved roads are extremely muddy, making it especially difficult for children to get to their schools and Compassion centers.

Children at Home

Houses in rural Nicaragua are small and made from brick or wood, but often have large courtyards with a primitive kitchen, shower, bathroom and laundry area. Most families have a garden, and some even have wells. But very few have running water. Homes have an average of eight family members.


Community Issues and Concerns Nicaragua Community

Rural communities need better schools, more job opportunities, higher wages and more access to health care. A lack of hope seems to be at the root of many of these extreme poverty issues.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children in Nicaragua’s rural communities face many struggles in their journey toward adulthood. The physical battles alone are overwhelming. Malnutrition and preventable illnesses, combined with the lack of adequate medical care, put young lives in danger daily. Sub-standard education also holds them back from reaching their full potential. Compassion and our local church partners in Nicaragua are diligently working to meet these challenges for rural children, to provide them help for today and hope for a brighter future.


Schools and Education Nicaragua Education

Rural Nicaraguan society is largely undereducated — students take an average of 10.3 years to complete the mandatory six years of schooling. Many children have to walk three or four miles to get to their schools, and most classrooms lack basic things like chairs, supplies or even roofs.

Countrywide, one in four children are not in the school system simply because many families are can’t afford costs associated with school, such as uniforms or supplies. So some children must drop out to work and supplement the family income. Compassion Nicaragua works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend elementary school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Child development centers in rural communities provide registered children with a place to learn, grow and study. Sponsorship allows staff to provide Bible teaching, medical exams, health and hygiene instruction, educational tours and classes, social events, tutoring and life-skills and vocational training. Centers also provide opportunities for involvement by the parents or guardians of sponsored children. These children also spend time writing to and praying for their sponsors.


Working Through the Local Church

Compassion partners with local churches throughout Nicaragua to operate child development centers. This partnership empowers the churches to be witnesses of Christ’s love in their communities. Local churches know well their communities and the challenges that their neighbors face. Like Compassion, they are eager to reach children and families for Christ.

Many parents initially enroll their children in the church’s Compassion program for the material benefits. But when they begin to see the spiritual changes in their children and the difference that biblical values make in their lives, parents are open to the gospel message themselves. In Nicaragua, Compassion and the local church is a dynamic partnership that is changing entire families!

How Compassion Works in Nicaragua Compassion in Nicaragua

Compassion began registering children in Nicaragua in 1974. Compassion Nicaragua’s first church partners were located in and around Managua, Nicaragua’s capital city. Currently, more than 41,000 children participate in 151 child development centers. Compassion partners with churches to help them provide Nicaraguan children with the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all that God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

“I believe God brought me to this ministry,” says Winston Pérez, a Partnership Facilitator for Compassion Nicaragua. Describing his role, he says, “I have the responsibility to be the connection between the partner church and Compassion.” Currently, he oversees 11 church-based Compassion centers.

Winston believes his responsibility for selecting new churches for Compassion partnership is especially important. “I look for churches committed to children and their development. An effective partnership can impact children, and through them, entire families.”

He adds, “God knows my heart’s passion is working with children. For more than three years, I was a center director at a local church. Now working for the Compassion national office, I have the opportunity to share with even more children.”


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for children who live in families that do not believe in Jesus.
  • Pray for good crops so families can have a healthy income this year.
  • Pray for center staff members to renew their love for the children and the work they are doing.