Street Children of Managua, Nicaragua
In January of this year I visited Nicaragua with Peaceworks, a group dedicated to supporting communities in Nicaragua in common struggle for justice, human rights, and sustainable economies. Among the projects supported by Peaceworks is Inhijambia, an organization dedicated to helping the street children of Managua, Nicaragua’s capital, children who have never had a childhood. Many go out to “earn” for their families one day and never go back. They find a “new family” on the street, but they find glue and a whole new world of violence. The addictive glue suppresses their hunger — an escape from reality, from the pain of survival. On the street, the children form living communities, called focos. In the foco, the girls usually match up with a boyfriend or “marido”. The marido normally sends his girlfriend out to prostitute so that he can eat and buy things for himself. The girls receive physical and sexual abuse from their maridos and clients. Many of the boys steal to make their way on the streets.
Inhijambia is currently the only project in Nicaragua dedicated to taking these children away from the scourge of drug addiction and prostitution and moving them to self-sufficiency and entry into mainstream Nicaraguan society. Its focus is the prevention of drug addiction, HIV-contamination and prostitution of young girls in the high-risk sections of Managua. Its goals are to motivate the young drug addicted to quit the high-risk sections and the focos; to provide professional, educational and nutritional aid programs for the children, and ultimately to help young people to acquire a job after education and help them to live independently.
The slideshow consists of portraits of some of the children and staff (in light blue shirts) of Inhijambia. I was particularly struck by the sad eyes and hopeful attitudes of the children.