With a population of just over 100,000 the city of Matagalpa is one of the most densely populated in Nicaragua. Its population is also extraordinarily young, with about 50% of those living here being under 16.
The city is surrounded by the beautiful countryside of central Nicaragua, but this picturesque setting is in stark contrast to the range of social problems that local people face. Poverty levels are especially high in Matagalpa and the region was particularly badly affected by fighting during the civil war of the 1980s.
Poverty in Matagalpa is widespread and this severely impacts on people's quality of life. Almost 40% of households are without proper sanitation or running water, and about 17% of the population live in shacks made from whatever materials they can find.
The towns location contributes to this difficult situation. During the rainy season it is virtually impossible to use the roads and its remoteness makes it difficult to seek medical attention. Opportunities for children growing up in Matagalpa are limited and life is tough.
Children in poverty
The city has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the whole country and this leaves many children without the parental support they need as they grow up. It is no surprise that child poverty is particularly common, and these early challenges can have an impact long into adulthood.
This is particularly true when children miss out on an education that would open doors later in life, which is often the case in poor families. Here, parents depend on the income that children can provide to help support the family. Without an education it is unlikely that these children will be able to break the cycle of poverty.
Our work in Matagalpa
We opened the SOS Children's Village Matagalpa in 2000, in order to help children without parental care and a growing number of vulnerable children in the region more broadly.
Working with the community
Our SOS social centre supports families at risk of abandoning their children, and helps them to stay together and continue caring for their kids. We offer a number of services, such as counselling and psychological support to help overcome the challenges that poverty creates for families.
We also provide practical support that gives parents a helping hand where they need it most. Chief among these is our day care facility for working mothers. This helps them to balance their care commitments and their need to earn money, by giving them a safe place to leave their children whilst they go to work.
Families for children
Sadly, some children cannot be cared for by their parents, either because they have been orphaned or abandoned. When this happens, our SOS Children's Village provides a loving home for over 100 children.
Here, they are able to live with an affectionate SOS Mother who has been trained to help them deal with the particular challenges these children may face. The support they receive ensures that a difficult start does not define their whole lives.
Children in Matagalpa who have lost their parents find a new loving home in our SOS Children's Village. You can help them to have a happy childhood by sponsoring a child.