The Filter House
Located near Managua’s Mercato Oriental, the Filter House assists street children and teenagers (some of them are workers, like sellers or shoe shiners). Here they can wash themselves, eat, receive treatment for wounds or illness, play, participate in sports or cultural activities. Every day educators walk through the streets to offer the children assistance and to convince them to leave street life, a very difficult task. On average, about 30 children live in the Filter House; they are immediately signed up in public schools, where they often have excellent results, a brilliant first step on the way to social reintegration.
Finca San Marcos
The Finca San Marcos, surrounded by nature, great majestic trees, orchards, flowers and animals, is the very first Quincho home and receives children up to 13 years of age after they have spent some adaptation time in the Filter House. They all go to public school and follow activities in woodwork, hammock-making and pottery workshops.
With help from the older teens who work as Promoters, the educators lovingly take care of the children and guide them in different kinds of activities, helping them learn and grow day by day.
’Chechio BumBum’ Cultural Centre
Many cultural and recreational activities take place at the ’Chechio Bum Bum’ cultural centre: traditional and modern dance classes, theatre, arts and crafts as well as meetings with young people from other Projects and with elderly people from the community, social studies and current affairs lectures by experts on themes such as health, education, national and international policies that have an influence on people’s life quality. The Country’s traditional culture and History are constantly in the focus.
Casa del Barrio
In the Barrio House, with the ’Nahuatl Sun’ art school, the Musical Band’s activity takes place. The Band can count on new instruments and teaches how to play traditional instruments, such as the marimba.
The Barrio house has a richly supplied library, and offers the chance to draw, paint and show films and documentaries.
It also includes a small restaurant , ’Osteria italiana’, which serves typical Italian cuisine. Some teens from the project work in the restaurant.
Since 1999 the Yahoska Project takes in young and teenage girls in the San Marcos house. Their past is marked by violence and abandonment.
Some of them are the sisters of other Quinchos. They all go to public school, participate in lectures and encounters about social problems and women and girl’s rights; they play in the Band and share cultural and social activities, sports and games with Quincho boys.
Inaugurated in 1999, the Los Quinchos Centre in Posoltega (in the North of Nicaragua) takes care of 60 children and teens each day. They come from the families hit by Hurricane Mitch, which devastated Central America in October 1998.
Every day the canteen, preschool and elementary school are in service. Many different cultural and recreational activities also take place here.
Granada, House on the Lake and ’Casa de Cultura’
The House on the Lake, on the shore of the big Cocibolca lake, in the ’Las isletas’ archipelago (counting hundreds of beautiful small islands) is home to around 35 teens. They all go to public school in various levels in the nearby city of Granada and take part in various activities with other Quinchos. They’re excellent swimmers and they exchange experiences with other Quinchos and Yahoska boys and girls and with children and teens from other Projects and from the community. In the centre of the beautiful town of Granada is the ’Casa de cultura’, a center for activities and meetings.
The People of the Dump: la Chureca (Download the pdf file)
Around 1500 people arrive in Managua’s (Nicaragua) ’Chureca’ dump, near the Acahualinca barrio, on the great Lake Nicaragua, each day. They manage to earn a little money to survive by collecting and selling garbage. 53% of them are under 18 years old.
They collect plastic, glass, paper, aluminum and other metals. On a ’good’ day they collect 100 kg of plastic, 100 kg of glass, 10 pounds of aluminum. Entire families work from six o’ clock in the morning all day long in this hell, sheltering themselves from sun or rain under a cardboard box or in the shade of their ’family’ cart. Children begin their career as early as four years old, helping to keep guard on collected material, choosing, cleaning. In the beginning, they search for ’easy’ materials, such as paper and plastic; sometimes they find toys in the rubbish. At 14 years old they know how to do everything a ’basurero’ worker needs to. 92% of the ’People of the Dump’ live in semi-destroyed houses, sometimes sharing a room with up to 6 other people, with no access to drinkable water, health services or education.
62% has no access to toilets. Illiteracy rate amongst over- fifteen year olds is 25%. Under the Chureca is a small inhabited area with huts made of wood and metal sheets where prostitutes and huelepega (glue and other drug addicts) live along with families. In the ’Chureca’ (42 acres) tens of trucks dump 900 tons of garbage every day. Garbage collectors are already waiting for them and they quickly ’attack’ the new mound with any possible tool.
The trucks bring up blinding clouds of dust. Periodically, airplanes drop combustible material on the dump which is set on fire: more highly toxic smoke surrounds the people who work there. In summer temperatures rise over 40°C. In winter, under the pouring rain, the dump becomes a marsh, the ground completely muddy.
There can be many different hazards, such as accidents caused by truck drivers or wounds from sharp objects. Infirmities are worsened by lack of hygiene: coughs, malaria fever, hemorrhagic dengue, lice, skin infections, blood poisoning caused by mercury. Six thousand years ago people and animals left their tracks, ’huellas’, on the shores of the Lake.
The ashes have cherished this remote mark of life and death of the American continent until today. Six thousand years later, men, women and children walk along rubbish paths in Acahualinca hell.