She had a scar that ran down her forehead to the left side of her nose. I did not dare ask why, but could not help but to be curious. The lines on her face were deep and her hair white. She quietly walked through a busy market asking passerby’s for money. I had already spent my last three dollars on corn cookies, so I had nothing to spare. She pleaded with me in Spanish to hand her whatever I had. I patted her on the back and had to walk away.
In 2009 the World Bank reported that Nicaragua was the poorest mainland country in Central America. It is a title that Nicaragua has yet to get away from as it was reported again in 2015 by the BBC. If you travel offshore and include all Latin American Countries, Haiti ranks number one as the poorest, followed by Nicaragua.
Nicaragua has been through civil wars, overzealous dictatorship and hurricanes that left thousands dead in 1998 and 2007, just to name a few of the uphill battles that residents have faced over the years. 75.8% of Nicaraguans survive on less than $2 per day. Numbers like that leave children venerable to death, disease and malnutrition.
Five of the country’s 17 departments (similar to states) have chronic malnutrition rates of more than 30%, and the rate exceeds 50% in the regions where most of Nicaragua’s indigenous people live. To make matters worse, many residents don’t understand good nutrition. The government actually encourages families to pull children out of school to help with agriculture. More than 500,000 children in the country do not attend school and 21% of those who do give school a try, drop out before the end of the first grade. Only 40% of children enroll in high school and of that number, on 40% graduate.