Nica HOPE began as an initiative to serve the community living in the Managua city trash dump...
conditions have greatly improved with the building of homes outside the dump, but of the same issues on entrenched poverty persist.
Over 175 families lived in the Managua, Nicaragua city dump, known as La Chureca.
They came here for the cheap land and the guaranteed income scavenging through the trash right outside their front doors, in a country where there are severely limited job opportunities. They stayed because there was little opportunity to make a life for themselves else where. An estimated 1,500 men, women, and children would come daily to comb through the piles of trash to find plastic and metal to sell, in addition to collecting food and other life necessities. Individual workers earned on average $20 a week and the reality is that families can earn more if the children are also helping. Both working and living in the dump exposed the community to a variety of health and safety risks. There were severe respiratory and other health problems from breathing in the fumes from the smoking and burning piles of trash. Lead poisoning was common among the youth who have grown up in the dump. Malnutrition was widespread and evident in the children’s swelled bellies and blond hair that lacks nutrients to maintain its natural dark color. STDs and prostitution were also a problem, and girls of all ages sell their bodies for money or other commodities. Many children and adults were addicted to sniffing shoe-glue, which helps suppress hunger and allows them to escape the reality of the life they are confined to in the dump.
There are still limited opportunities for these families for employment outside the dump. They also often lack the motivation to take advantage of the opportunities that do exist, having become complacent with now dependent on handouts from a variety of government and social programs.
Among the community that lived in the trash dump, over 30% are illiterate. High absenteeism persists among students who do attend school. Students often drop out before the year is over, because they can't afford school supplies, school uniforms or shoes. Many leave school to help with the household responsibilities, whether cleaning, caring for younger children, or working in the trash. The result is a severly under-educated generation of youth that will face the same constraints as their parents, trapped in a cycle of poverty.