Esperanza was formed in 1997 by a group of "gringos" from
the United States who wanted to offer opportunities for a better life
to the street children of Granada, Nicaragua.
of children in Central America are forced from their homes at an early
age because of abuse, neglect, being sent into the streets by their
parents to beg for money, or simply because the family has too many
mouths to feed. Many of these children become thieves out of necessity,
living on the streets and facing chronic illness and violence.
children also face the threat of drug addiction due to the wide availability
of shoe glue, which they quickly learn helps dull their hunger and
provides a false, short-lasting sense of euphoria. Shoe glue is typically
placed in a baggie or baby food jar and sniffed as a form of self-medication
and hunger inhibitor. The “huelepegas” quickly become
addicted to a substance which causes severe damage to the brain and
many of the internal organs. By spending time with these children
and getting to know their individual circumstances, we discovered
that their future was hopeless unless someone made a decision to dedicate
themselves to helping these children rise above their poverty.
Project Esperanza volunteers first began working with street children
in Granada in 1997, we provided literacy classes from the restaurant
of a small hostel where volunteers stayed during their visits to Nicaragua.
We eventually were able to rent a large home which served as residence,
school, and kitchen for a number of street children. We have always
focused on education as a means of helping these children to rise
above the poverty level in which they were born.
When homeowners continued to raise the monthly rent to an amount beyond
our means, we began looking for property to purchase in order to be
able to provide a permanent home and school for the children we serve.
In 1999 Project Esperanza volunteers borrowed money and purchased
a small piece of land on Lake Nicaragua and built a small residence
to serve as the future lodging for full-time volunteers. Until the
childrens’ residence was built in early 2002, the homeless children
were accommodated inside the volunteer residence and in the bodega
(storage room) built for future food storage use. During this interim
period, volunteers continued to offer daily literacy classes as usual
to both residents of the facility and other children who came to receive
nourishment and learn to read and write as well.
are very grateful for the generous donations which made
our children's home and school possible.
Through successful fund raising efforts, we were finally able to build
a permanent shelter for our children. We can house up to 20 children
and provide daily classes for all who desire to learn.
(right) and Rafael (second from left) were living on the streets
when they came to our shelter in 1998. Before we were able
to build our own permanent shelter, we would provide a temporary
home to homeless children and eventually place them into a
permanent shelter in Granada. Both boys continue to live happy,
healthy lives in their residence in Granada.