Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, is in recovery from a long history of oppressive dictatorships, civil war and natural disasters. The Marxist Sandinista movement made much progress in the '70s and '80s in redistributing land to the majority poor of Nicaragua; they also improved health and education facilities. However, a US-backed contra guerrilla force, and the imposition of trade sanctions by the US, ultimately ensured their failure to get elected in free elections held in the late 1990s.
The advent of peace has brought improvement in welfare conditions, but Nicaragua's economy is still struggling, and access to basic educational and health facilities is inconsistent. For instance, 24% of Nicaragua's population are illiterate, and 1 in 25 children will die before their fifth birthday. More recently, 3,000 people lost their lives in Hurricane Mitch, and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced.
The people of Nicaragua are in great need of the life-changing hope that child sponsorship can bring to their families and communities. You can sponsor a child in Nicaragua  through ActionAid, one of the world's leading relief and development agencies, who have developed a child sponsorship scheme which links people in more affluent countries with individual children in developing countries around the world.
ActionAid works in Nicaragua, in partnership with community organisations such as Ayuda en Acción, to improve access to basic sanitation, health and education facilities. It has invested in the training of health workers and the provision of health services. It also invests in the improvement of education facilities, and it has championed the need for poor people to know their rights, and to come together to fight for them.
ActionAid supports micro-finance companies that make small loans and credit available to business start-ups. It also works with community organisations to ensure equitable management of Nicaragua natural resources. At times of natural disaster, such as when Hurricane Mitch hit, ActionAid has been on hand to provide emergency relief.
In the 37 years since its inception, ActionAid has reached many millions people in Africa, Asia and the Americas, and it has developed a wealth of expertise in fighting poverty. The charity partners with local organisations and recognises the need to work with communities on their own terms, and not impose solutions. By getting to know the culture intimately ActionAid workers have the best possible opportunity to affect a lasting end to poverty.
Sponsoring a child in Nicaragua  today will cost you only 50 pence per day. Your money will also go towards development efforts in the town in which the child you sponsor lives. This will ensure the most efficient and effective use of your money.
As a child sponsor you will be able arrange a personal visit with your child and to communicate with them. You can also look forward to receiving special letters and drawings, including a new photograph every two years. Additionally, you get to see where and how your money is being spent by keeping in touch with your child's local ActionAid office, and through regular editions of Common Cause, ActionAid's newsletter.
You may also like to consider sponsoring a child through the following trusted agencies: