Poor Nicaragua?

According to the latest survey, 9 out of the 10 poorest countries in the world are in Africa not Central America. The wealth of a country is measured by its GDP (Gross domestic product) per capita. This is an estimate of how much an individual spends as a consumer compared to the total population spending on products and services. According to the U.S. Department of State here are the latest figures for Nicaragua:

GDP (2011 est.): $7.08 billion.

GDP real growth rate (2011): 4.7%.

 Per capita GDP (2011): $1,202.

For a country that many people call “”Poor“, Nicaragua holds the highest index of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) as a percentage of GDP for the fourth consecutive year in Central America. 13.3 percent in 2011, well above the regional average of 4 percent. In plainer terms, Nicaragua is being discovered by more and more foreign investors. Nicaraguan exports reported an annual average growth rate of 19 percent from 2003-2011. In 2010, Nicaragua received over 1 million tourists.

In Nicaragua there are No McDonald’s on every corner, no KFCs, no prostitutes hanging out on the street. There are more homeless people and beggars in the Chicago city limits in the U.S. than in the entire country of Nicaragua. It also has double the population of Chicago. A recent news article by a Canadian online newspaper reported “Concern for one of the most embattled and impoverished areas of the world quickly turned into action at Kay Bingham elementary school when students resolved to send Nicaraguan children some shoes. Jiquillilo, which has been ravaged by civil war, decimated by a tsunami and plagued by extreme poverty. Here is an excerpt from another article written by a student from a school in Medfield,Massachussets”:

“This February I traveled to Nicaragua, an underprivileged country in Central America, and experienced first-hand the poverty and struggles that families face. I noticed that many people either had shoes that were completely falling apart or they had no shoes at all. Although we could never even imagine living the way that people live in Nicaragua, the least we can do is help them.”

Playa Jiquilillo is a sleepy fishing village on a northwest peninsula of beaches in the department of Chinandega. It makes this area either a beautiful day trip or an extended, lazy stay, paddling through the wetlands and lazing on the beach.The area remains largely undeveloped. Jiquilillo has a population of approximately 4,142 people. This beach is part of the Estero Padre Ramos Natural Reserve, its inhabitants are mainly fisherman.There are several restaurants and rustic accommodation for visitors to the area.

To call this quiet sleepy beach town “”plagued by extreme poverty”” and “”ravaged by civil war”” is degrading to its residents. For someone to say that they can’t imagine living the way that people live in Nicaragua is an insult.

The main source of income in Jiquillilo is Fishing. Since it is in fact located on the pacific ocean, the majority of the people that live there would certainly be considered poor by most standards, but those comments are typical of the negative and false publicity that keeps many people away from discovering a country that has so much untapped pure beauty to offer. Of course, Nicaragua could use help. But the help they need most is not shoes for poor kids. They need help tapping into the many resources they already have but don’t quite know how to utilize yet.

Stop the Bad Press!
Perhaps it’s time to get rid of all the misinformation being distributed across the atmosphere about this undiscovered gem of a country. There are an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 Americans living in Nicaragua full time and thousands more of European descent. This is NOT a country undergoing civil war, there hasn’t been a civil war here since 1980 after the fall of Dictator Somoza. Sure there is poverty here. But can you name one Latin American country that does not have an area(s) where people live in poverty?


Education In Nicaragua
However, it is true that many of the reasons you will find so much underdeveloped infrastructure in Nicaragua has mostly to do with the disappointing support of the Sandinista government for many sectors of Nicaraguan society. Education is one area where the government has failed its citizens so the quality of education in Nicaragua still leaves a lot to be desired. So instead of Shoes, those Canadian and American children would have best served the children residents of Jiquilillo best by sending down educational materials such as books and other resources to help improve their education. Or how about sending down a group of folks that can show the residents how to form a cooperative that would allow them to pool resources together, learn new skills and in turn make money for themselves,and their community and then…. they can go out and just by their own pair of shoes for their kids.


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