La Paz Centro is a city of 30,000 people in Nicaragua, the second poorest country next to Haiti in this region. Artists for Soup and Vassar education researchers started projects in La Paz Centro because it’s close to the capital, easy to reach, and traveling distance from a number of partnering organizations doing sustainable work in Nicaragua. Finally, La Paz Centro is small enough to be navigable and manageable in scale. New community service and research projects in La Paz Centro can gather participants by word of mouth.
People in La Paz Centro are poor by measures used in the U.S. but less poor than many Nicaraguans who live in rural areas. “Extreme poverty” is defined by family income of less than $1.25 a day, and 68 percent of Nicaraguans are trying to survive on a dollar a day. It’s likely that extreme poverty is present for many residents El Quilombo, a new neighborhood in La Paz Centro where s Vassar College Ford fellow conducted oral history interviews with people about their experience with education. This neighborhood was established three years ago through a land grant from the current president in an attempt to ameliorate housing shortages in the area.
Measures of poverty fail to suggest the short and long term impact of deprivation and extreme inequality in La Paz Centro. Less visually evident are the social pressures created in a population where HIV, AIDS and kidney failure are prevalent. At the moment, La Paz Centro is experiencing the most severe drought in 32 years. Finding healthy food year-round is a growing challenge as 2.8 million Central Americans have experienced seasonal hunger in 2014-2015 according to World Food Program of the U.N.
Many families in La Paz Centro get some remittances from relatives who work in other countries. There are four Western Unions in this small city where there is only one bank and no large grocery store Statistics suggest that one in five families in Nicaragua depend on connections to people working outside Nicaragua to survive.
Artists for Soup is a 501-c3 not- for-profit dedicated to reducing hunger, malnutrition and poverty through empowering women and secondary school students and as they acquire skill and knowledge to help lead community initiatives aimed at building local economic and food security in a sustainable way...read more
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Artists for Soup
P.O. Box 835, Millbrook, NY 12545