The people of Nicaragua live differently than in Europe. One might think that life in Nicaragua is easier for people. In a certain way this is also true. If one learns the families and their problems but first know, one knows that life is anything but easy.
Life in Nicaragua
Many families I know in the small town Somoto live under normal circumstances. Under normal, I understand that the families live in an apartment or a house and at least one parent follows a job. Also normal is when the children live with their mother and grandma alone. Normal is that the children go to school, do their homework and play with friends.
The families are small or large and in many houses several generations live under one roof. You will find in almost every household domestic workers who live like a part of the family. There is no dishwasher and the water only flows twice a day for a few hours.
People live without insurance and savings. They live in the day and enjoy every moment they spend with the family. The children are a glimpse at each moment and bring much enrichment into the life of Nicas.
The family is cooked and eaten together. Often, aunts, uncles or friends come to a coffee and stay in the late evening hours. It feels like a great life-community where one can be as one is. It is discussed in a big round, laughed and eaten.
Families in the countryside
Somoto looks a bit different in the small villages surrounding Somoto. This includes La Playa, the village where I look after 40 children. From Somoto it is 15 minutes by taxi. From the road to the village, it is another 15 minutes walk. Some families live far up and have a journey of an hour and a half ahead. The sun shines almost daily at 32 degrees.
Here live families that do not have much. There is neither a supermarket nor a pharmacy. The women take their water daily from the well and carry it home. This is cooked, washed and eaten. For us, the water is not drinkable and I am told again and again, I should be careful and never drink it.
The houses consist of bricks and cement and have corrugated metal roofs. There are two rooms and a small niche for cooking, which is often outside. Here is cooked on hot flame rice for the whole family. There are two small rooms for a large family. The larger room is the living and dining room in one. Here you eat, play and live. In the second room are the beds. Here, grandparents and parents sleep together with their children in the beds.
Women and children
The women in La Playa work a lot. Many travel to Honduras or Costa Rica to find work there. Therefore, it is often the grandmothers who look after the children and look after the household. It is they who educate the children.
The mothers leave the country to work. They come home every few months, then disappear for work again. It happens that they do not come back. So in the case of a girl from my project. She is 12 years old and lives with her grandmother. The mother went to Honduras when the boy was two years old. The mother wanted to find work and settled down with a man. She did not come back. She rarely comes to La Playa and brings money. The little girl and her grandmother live alone and do not even have more animals. The chickens were stolen.
It is clear that families in La Playa are struggling to survive. Many men work in the field, especially in the winter when it rains. In recent years, however, the rain has decreased so much that the men are no longer needed on the field. We speak of climate change. It is hot and it hardly rains.
The girls from the country often work at the age of fifteen, mostly in the field, where they help with tomato harvesting. They do not go to school because they have to help in the household. I have met girls of this age who are not going to school anymore. They are timid and know that they have just as much a future as their mothers. They are hopeless and still have their dreams.
So I meet the 21-year-old mother of one of the little girls in our project. She tells me that she would like to study psychology, but she did not know exactly whether she would. Finally, she has a daughter to provide. She lives with her mother, sister and 5 children in a house.
The young women in Nicaragua depend on themselves and carry a lot on their shoulders at a young age. They have little chance of studying, as they have to help at a young age and are confronted with the problems of the family’s existence. It does not take much to study. At the public universities, enrollment is free of charge. It is the living conditions that the girls hold back.
And the men?
Men rarely remain with their wives. Many women and even men have confirmed to me that the men are machos. This is particularly true of the rural area of northern Nicaragua. Many men disappear shortly after the birth of the child or already after announcing the pregnancy. They look for a younger friend and start a family with her. The women have to come alone on their own and are often dependent on other family members.
In other cases, if the family’s father remains with the woman, domestic violence often occurs. The woman is dependent. She became an early mother, has not studied, and has no work experience. I learn from a woman that she only stays with her husband so she can study. Once she graduates, she will take her children and go. But that will still take time and the children will be exposed to the unbearable whim of the father. You do not want to know what is going on behind a closed door. The woman does not notice anything. She is young, handsome and has a sense of humor.
Many women realize that their husband is cheating them or running after other women, but they can not do anything. They do not want to jeopardize their children’s future.Fazit
The life in Nicaragua is not easy, but it is easier seen from our eyes. We put a lot of things on our shoulders, so that we are not caught up with pure boredom. In Nicaragua, the boredom is pretty normal. You have to wait for the next bus and if the next comes up in 40 minutes, then this is just the way it is. When I spoke to a friend from Nicaragua about life here, she briefly summed it up with a sentence: “If you want to be rich in Nicaragua, you have to improvise.”