Bridges to Community (visit the website), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based out of Westchester County, New York, is committed to reaching out to help break the cycle of poverty in some of Latin America’s most needy communities. Bridges to Community volunteers come from all around the world to give a week or two of their time to serve these needy areas. The two countries upon which we have focused our humanitarian efforts are Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at one of the communities we strive to provide assistance to in Nicaragua. It is our hope that your heart will be stirred to partner with us in making a difference in the lives of people seeking to improve the overall quality of life for themselves, their families, and future generations. If you are interested in forming a group to take part on one of our service trips, please visit our website and contact us for more information. We regularly bring groups from businesses, colleges, churches and other organizations to the communities we serve.
Why Choose to Work in Nicaragua?
Nicaragua is second only to Haiti when it comes to Latin American nations in poverty. With a 40% rural population, the average daily wage for a majority of rural Nicaraguans is scarcely more than one dollar per day.
Since back in 1993 when we started working in this impoverished nation, our organization has sought to increase the standard of living for Nicaraguan natives in a number of creative ways. The regions we currently serve include Masaya, Nindiri, Siuna, and Jinotega. The province of Jinotega will be the focus of this article.
Jinotega, the “Misty City”
Jinotega earns its nickname as the “misty city,” as it is often covered by thick clouds. Nestled between mountains, this vast province is home to only 75,000 people.
More than 90% of the population of Jinotega make a living in the agricultural industry. They run modestly-sized bean, corn, coffee, and vegetable farms as well as work with livestock. Over 80% of Nicaragua’s coffee export crop is grown in this versatile region.
A number of different indigenous peoples have called Jinotega home over the centuries. Some of them still inhabit the area to this day. The Spanish set up a Catholic church in this area back in the 1800s, and for a brief time, the area was colonized by Spain. That original Catholic Church building has been completely replaced by a newer Cathedral constructed in the beautiful and majestic Neoclassical style. Located inside the church are some impressive pieces of artwork which originated in Italy and Spain.
Jinotega is also important from an environmental standpoint. The western border of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve is located in this province. This 12,500+ square mile rainforest is the second largest in the Western Hemisphere in regards to the overall size of the area.
This reserve was designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1997 because its tropical rainforest is a haven of biodiversity. It houses many rare or endangered species, which is why great care must be taken by locals as well as charitable organizations to preserve the integrity of the province’s protected region.
In spite of the land’s breathtaking beauty and historical significance, a majority of Jinotega’s population are impoverished. Climactic changes leave the local people vulnerable to losing what little income they have because, by and large, most of them have no access to credit.
Our team seeks to assist them by improving their housing facilities, healthcare, educational opportunities, and economic development prospects. We’re thrilled to play a part in helping the people of this province climb their way out of poverty.