Cross Catholic Outreach Transforms Entire Nicaraguan Communities

To achieve extensively, lasting changes in the battle against poverty takes incredible vision, careful planning and a multi-faceted approach to addressing the needs of the poor. As one of its first objectives in this effort to transform a community in Nicaragua, Cross Catholic Outreach has been undertaking a major initiative to bring clean water to those who need it most, and this effort has attracted a lot of support over the years. Our goal involves quenching thirst and ending a dependence on crude water sources that spread intestinal illnesses. We achieve this through new water systems that connect every home to a 24/7 water supply.

What is perhaps less well known is how those water systems are part of a larger plan to transform communities.

Charity that effects this kind of sustainable, holistic change takes more than good intentions. It requires thoughtfulness, planning, determination, collaboration.. and a whole lot of time.  In the rural communities of Chinandega, Nicaragua, that process takes seven years and is fueled by faith in Christ and compassion for the poor.

Five Goals of Effective Poverty Reduction in Nicaragua

Each time our donors give to meet the needs of poor Chinandega families, they participate in a broader vision of transformation. That’s because Cross Catholic Outreach is working with a Chinandega-based ministry to lift those families out of squalor and into new lives that are overall more hopeful, healthy, productive, and grounded in God’s love.

This vision includes 5 goals.

  • 1. Leadership — Raise up local leaders and equip the community to take ownership of its new resources.
  • 2. Water — Install a clean, reliable community water system and provide a modern bathroom for every home.
  • 3. Health — Reduce preventable diseases.
  • 4. Education — Achieve 80%-100% school enrollment and participation for local children.
  • 5. Economic — Effect a 10% annual increase in income of families receiving microenterprise support.

Related: Learn about Cross Catholic Outreach’s commitment to transforming communities around the world.

Donate to Provide Clean Water


Raising Up Nicaraguan Leaders

“Teach a man to fish” may be an old and tired cliché, but what will never be outdated is the value of treating the poor as capable human beings who have skills, ideas and resources to contribute. One of those skills is leadership.

By encouraging and equipping local individuals to be leaders in their communities, this project puts the beneficiaries in the driver’s seat for long-term success. As these communities take ownership of their new resources and chart a plan for the future, they feel a renewed sense of dignity and are inspired to overcome any obstacle.

Thus, our local partner collaborates with each community to assemble and train three leadership teams:

  • 1. The Community Water and Sanitation Committee owns and manages the water system.
  • 2. The Community Development Committee tackles the general advancement of the community.
  • 3. The Community Youth Committee gives the young a voice and prepares them to be the next generation of leadership.
A meeting of community leaders, who play a critical role in implementing local development projects and enacting long-term transformation.

Solving Nicaragua’s Water and Sanitation Woes

The lack of safe, reliable water sources and reliable sanitation systems has been a major threat to the health and prosperity of many poor Nicaraguans. These challenges lead to thirst, cause illness, and create instability in many families’ lives.

Families that once had to rely on shallow, contaminated wells for water are overjoyed when they can finally obtain as much clean, safe water as they need from a home spigot. They are thrilled when a ministry provides modern toilets and showers too. Such changes can feel like an answer to prayer — and their impact on health and well-being is immediate as well.

Reducing Preventable Disease

Improving life in a poor community begins with efforts to ensure children and families are in good health. From day 1, our local partner is focused on eradicating major sources of disease. Water samples are taken, families are educated on good hygiene and sanitation, and follow-up visits are done to gauge environmental and health improvements.

For this plan, success means:

  • 1. Preventing kidney disease through clean water access.
  • 2. Preventing intestinal parasites through good hygiene.
  • 3. Preventing respiratory illness by replacing open fires with clean-air kitchens.

Educating Nicaragua’s Children

It is alarming that only four in 10 Nicaraguan children finish high school. Many small communities simply lack the resources to provide quality education. For that reason, our ministry partner invests heavily in improving access to quality education. This includes everything from feeding students to providing classroom supplies to building innovative school facilities far beyond what these communities could afford on their own.

The goal: to see that every child can attend school and have their nutritional needs met there!

Empowering the Poor to Support Themselves

How would you survive on $1.40 a day? In the rural communities of Chinandega, Nicaragua, that is the average income individuals typically earn.

To boost families’ income-generating power, this initiative takes an incremental approach. The goal is to boost their income by 10% each year — a small amount by U.S. standards, but enough to make a tangible difference for Nicaragua’s poor. For some families, the increase is much higher.

Our ministry partner pursues this goal in multiple ways. In addition to traditional microloans that help hardworking individuals grow small businesses, community members can also benefit from the ministry’s 7-acre farm.

On the farm, agronomists experiment with various crops to find combinations that can boost the earnings of local farmers. Participants then receive help diversifying their crops. There is also a pig production facility that gives farmers the opportunity to raise pigs for sale in partnership with the ministry. 

Relationship Building: A Key to Reducing Poverty

These endeavors have been incredibly successful, and a key reason is that our in-country ministry partner focuses on developing strong, productive relationships among the people it serves. Rather than throw money at a community’s problems and move on to the next challenge, our ministry partners work to gain trust in their communities and build long-term relationships with local leaders. While we provide the resources, these in-country partners interact with the people as brothers and sisters in Christ, spending time with them, praying with them and encouraging them to set their own goals and build the future they’ve always dreamed of. Beneficiaries become ambassadors, spreading the good news to other communities and even serving as volunteers. This is Christ’s love in action!

Gathered in prayer: Nicaraguan community members, Cross Catholic Outreach and our local ministry partner.

Be Christ’s Hands and Feet to Nicaragua… and Beyond

These are the kinds of blessings you help make possible when you contribute to Cross Catholic Outreach’s efforts at community transformation. With your support, we can continue to meet urgent needs and pursue real, lasting change in struggling communities throughout the developing world.

Join us today. Together, we will show the watching world that God’s love can positively transform lives, families and communities!

Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.