Updated: Sep 5, 2020

Dear Empowerment International Friends,

We would like to share with you, our supporters and friends, about the current situation we face with the Covid-19 virus emergency in Nicaragua. So far, we have two confirmed cases in Nicaragua.

Sadly, thousands of Nicaraguan people work for the informal sector and it is not easy for them to stay at home because their families depend on them to bring home food every day

In addition, the crowded conditions in the neighborhoods we serve, as well as the poor medical capacity available, foreshadow that this outbreak will be extremely difficult to contain. We know it is only a matter of time before this impacts us like the rest of the world. We are preparing for that in the best way we can.

We are encouraging those in our community who are symptomatic to get tested. The government has closed non-essential businesses indefinitely. While schools are still open, most parents have decided not to send their children to school to prevent the spread of the virus.

For the last 6 weeks, our team has been working with the children on teaching them general hygiene and hand-washing techniques. We have been monitoring their health. Last week, we decided to put on hold activities that could expose children and staff to the virus or contribute to the spread of it. Because Nicaraguan government systems are not very strong, we must play a vital role in our communities to keep them safe and slow the spread.

We will be continuing to support the children in the best way we can with an emergency plan which includes the following activities:

1. Continue working on educating the parents and children about the realities of the virus and the best ways they can contribute to keeping their entire community and family safe.

2. Home visit staff are now replacing visits with calls and text messages.

3. We are offering children take-home meals and homework to promote social distancing.

4. Support any sick person in the communities we serve with basic medicine. Educate them when it is time to obtain professional care, to avoid overloading the hospitals and spreading the virus further.

5. Keep the EI team safe using WHO and CDC protocol for our workers who must be in the office. For others, we have developed a stay at home work plan and policy.

6. Support our children and families if lives are lost.

7. Coordinate with other Nicaraguan Non-Governmental Organizations on joint actions in order to not duplicate efforts.

As events develop, we will continue to keep you posted. Thank you for your support. We pray that all of our friends around the world can stay healthy during this difficult time.


Marcia, Lisseth, and Kathy

Updated: Jan 4

By Katy Sawyer

As we passed by Perla’s house, she gregariously invited us in with a kind smile. Those of us she had never met were greeted like old friends. A welcoming hostess, she set out the three chairs she had so that we visitors could take a seat, while she remained standing, in her well swept and clean courtyard. Perla is warm and chatty; she exudes happiness. And, as you listen to her tell the very challenging circumstances of her life, you can’t help but be moved by her humility, ambition, and optimism.

Perla’s story is particularly unique. A single mother of five children: Ericka (16), Alexandra (15), Reyna (11), Jose (10), and Jerison (8), she is also an Empowerment International (EI) tutoring recipient. At the age of 22, 13 years ago, she made the decision to go back to school. A challenging feat for any parent juggling child-rearing, working and caring for a home. But for Perla, who began living on the streets at age 10, going back to school meant starting from where she left off: beginning in grade 3.

Growing up, Perla received much physical and emotional abuse from her mother. Fed up, she ran away from her mother’s home to live with her father only to discover he was an alcoholic. “It was better to be with him because at least I did not receive physical abuse.” However, at 11 years old she decided to leave her father’s house to live on the streets.

“I spent all my youth living on the streets. There are no words to describe the harsh reality of living on the streets.” She slept outside, was often hungry, cold and wet from the heavy rains during Nicaragua’s rainy season. She would go to the “Mercado” (Nicaraguan street market) to beg for money for food. She drank and used drugs. At 19, she became pregnant with her first child. The baby’s father, a vendor of respados (a Nicaraguan treat similar to snow cones), made just enough money to support them. He was also abusive. Despite this, Perla moved into his mother’s house to give her the stable home she needed to change her life. She stopped drinking, quit drugs, and found work washing and ironing clothes for people in the neighborhood. Perla and the baby’s father separated but Perla, serendipitously, inherited her mother’s house thus keeping her and the baby off the streets.

Returning to her old neighborhood was hard. The neighbors criticized her and spoke ill of her for her former life on the streets and her drug and alcohol use. Their words weighed on her but, luckily, she discovered EI. “EI’s support has been life-changing for me.”

Perla credits EI as the motivation for her to grow. At 22, when she went back to school, she didn’t know how to read or write. Currently, Perla is in the 11th grade of secondary school (the final year of high school) and is determined to complete her secondary education successfully. This is not the stopping point for her though, due to her history of mistreatment, and physical-psychological abuse, as she plans to graduate from high school this year, she is preparing herself for university admission. Her goal is to become a psychologist, and in this way not only will she be able to continue her self-improvement, as a mother and professional but, also with her life experience, will be able to counsel women and children who are in situations similar to her own. She’s an integral member of her church and she speaks to alcoholics and drug addicts to offer her support that they, too, can turn their lives around.

She says EI has always been there for her, “even in my hardest moments.” She speaks about a significant period of depression she suffered, during which EI intervened and sent her to a psychologist. She was overwhelmed: caring for the kids, working, studying, and taking care of the house had taken its toll and she felt it would never get better. The psychologist taught her how to manage her negative emotions and also helped Perla organize her time and determine where to put her energy. Perla indicates that this experience revolutionized her energy levels and made her realize she could achieve her dreams.

Perla now has a permanent position with the city public works. Despite the fact that it requires her to get an earlier start her day, it allows her to finish early, and be able to support her children with their homework, and care. Some days work begins at 4 AM, she takes her tools to go out to clean the streets of Granada and returns home at 1 PM to have lunch with her children and enjoy the afternoon with them, alternate weeks Perla rises at 5.30 AM readies the children for school, and herself for work at 11 AM, returning home between 6 and 7 PM. She is happy with this job because she has a fixed salary and benefits and no longer worries about whether she will make enough sales during the day as a vendor.

Perla greatly appreciates the work that is done at EI not only from the area of tutoring but also the work that is done in-home visits and schools for parents, “In the parenting schools I have learned to be a better mother, neighbor, and person, I have learned a lot about how to improve the relationship and treatment for my children as well as how to protect them from situations and people that can hurt them. Thanks to Empowerment International who has fought for so many years with me and my family, today my children are good students and I have decided to improve myself to have a better life”.

From March Empowerment Journal - https://www.empowermentinternational.org/post/march-forward-with-hope-and-enthusiasm-at-empowerment-international

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

March Empowerment Journal from Nicaragua, education and community development information. Notes from the barrio, and the supportive donor-sponsor community…


Perla, one woman’s determination to make empowering change

From California to Granada, a visitor to Nicaragua makes a life changing connection

Donate, or Sponsor at empowermentinternational.org Donations are tax-deductible to Empowerment International (EI) is a Colorado, USA registered nonprofit 501(c)3, and has been working in Nicaragua since 2003.