A country of incredible beauty with people known for their warmth and hospitality, Nicaragua blends many different cultures and influences. Unfortunately, a history of military conflicts and natural disasters contributed to Nicaragua becoming the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with widespread underemployment and poverty. But a period of relative stability has led to Nicaragua experiencing a rate of economic growth exceeding that of its Central American neighbors.
In Nicaragua, Love Forward has partnered with Arms of Love and ORPHANetwork. In 1999, Robert Benson started the Arms of Love children’s home in Managua, Nicaragua, to care for abused and abandoned children in a family environment. Arms of Love is now recognized by Nicaragua’s Ministerio de la Familia as having one of the highest quality residential programs in the country. Arms of Love is part of a network of similar programs that are connected through ORPHANetwork, which serves about 360 children across Nicaragua.
Love Forward is currently supporting students in Nicaragua who were referred to its program by Arms of Love and ORPHANetwork. Our current students previously resided at six different orphanages or homes—Arms of Love, Casa Bernabe, Hogar de Fe, Hogar de Gloria, Puerto Cabezas, and Maria Jose—and are pursuing a wide range of college degrees including business administration, banking, nursing, engineering, and journalism.
Nicaragua has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Latin America, and the Gender Inequality Index places Nicaragua in the lowest one-third of all countries. Nearly one in three women give birth before the age of 18, and an even larger number are married by 18, a trend associated with poverty, discriminatory gender norms, and a lack of educational opportunities. One study showed that 93% of teenage pregnancies were the result of sexual assault, yet efforts to protect women against gender-based violence have stalled.