How I’m Giving Back To Nicaragua

I don’t think I’ve shared my story as to why I’m in Nicaragua in the first place, nor why I’m so positive about this nation’s future. A brief history…

I was traveling from Canada, via a flight to Mexico City, then overland to Montanita, a town on the Santa Elena Peninsula in Ecuador that’s known for its surf beaches and bohemian vibe. A friend and client wanted to purchase a small beachfront, surf resort for his daughter and asked me to go scout out some options. I decided to take my time and make it a vacation/business trip since I wasn’t on a deadline. This turned out to be a bad idea that eventually ended well.

I was robbed in Honduras by four banditos, right at the frontier. Long story made bearable… I didn’t win the day but I did damage one of my assailants and his friends fled. I left Honduras, entered Nicaragua, and the next day informed the Canadian Embassy of what happened. I worried I’d caused a minor international incident. The embassy informed the Honduras government I was available should they wish to talk with me, and asked that any inquiries go through official channels… nothing ever came of it.

I was expected to stay in Managua until money, credit and debit cards, and documents that were stolen could be replaced. I was not enjoying my time in Managua, so I contacted a travel writer friend who has spent a lot of time in Central America. He suggested I head to Granada, assuring me that since I liked Antigua, Guatemala, so much I’d enjoy its Nicaragua sister city. I was in Granada only a couple of days before I realized I could live stress free, affordably, and make some money if I stayed. Other than visa runs I’ve been here since July 26, 2014. My client and friend had a heart attack and passed away soon after I arrived in Nicaragua. Since I was no longer committed to go to Ecuador I started looking at opportunities within Nicaragua.

Mombacho volcano seen from Lake NicaraguaI discovered Nicaragua was very pro foreign investment, especially in the tourism industry. I’ve done reasonably well in Nicaragua, and the Nicaraguan people I’ve met are wonderful. Appreciative, I decided to give something back. Through the two hotels I have interest in, Hotel de Sonrisas and Hotel La Calzada, I’ve started a program in which the children of single mothers can attend English classes at a private school. Tourism is the industry with the greatest employment opportunities, and it’s already the nation’s second largest employer after agriculture. However, to be deemed employable by tourism industry businesses, a Nicaraguan needs to speak some English. Most do not because it’s not a subject offered in public or church run schools. Solution, offer the opportunity to learn a second language myself. Classes started this past week for a handful of kids. More enrollments will follow with new students being added each 3 month semester.

At the moment this is an on the books scholarship or sponsorship program funded by the two hotels. We will later offer those children that stick with the courses an internship, maybe even permanent employment. If I calculated the need correctly, the demand for English speaking young people in the industry may make it necessary to increase pace and seek funding. We’ll see.

A second means of giving back… I’ve adopted as my cause assisting the local hospital with basics; bedding, pillows, equipment, etc. I had a mild stroke brought on by soft tissue swelling from an inner ear infection. Most expats, myself included, go to private clinics and hospitals. However, the closest hospital was not one of these. Known as the Japanese Hospital because it was Japan that build it for the Nicaraguan people, I was admitted, treated and released to the care of my personal doctor. The entire process cost me US$192.00 and I’ve made a 99% recovery. My right ear and the surrounding area have limited feeling, and although no one else seems to be able to see it, I swear I have some disfigurement around my right eye.

I did not notice much when I was a patient, but later I had occasion to visit a hotel guest in the same hospital. I was shocked to find that there were no pillows, few sheets for the beds, and very little in the way of incidentals needed by staff to do their jobs at peak efficiency. Apparently everything was stolen by patients, visitors and staff over time. Petty theft is a problem in poorer countries, and Nicaragua is no different. Anyway, once I’ve worked out with hospital administration what they need and how they intend to thwart future thefts, the plan is to seek donations of whatever it is the hospital needs and have it shipped in.

My reason for sharing my personal story and the causes I support is to highlight how little effort and money it takes to make a huge difference in this country. It’s the same with investing. A small investment in any business venture that creates jobs will have a positively impact on the lives of employees and their families. This is why foreign investment is sought by the Nicaraguan government, and why the country’s leadership is so pro business.

Opportunities are abundant here, so there is something for everyone and every budget. For more information contact Nica Investments.

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