June 2020

Charity Nicafund and Antigua Esteli asking for help. NICAFund, Nicaraguan Initiative for Community Advancement, and Antigua Esteli joined forces to help families during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Where the charity is focused on creating sustainable jobs in Nicaragua, they are now offering emergency help to affected families in several cities in Nicaragua.

Currently, Nicaragua is hurting. Although the official numbers of the Nicaraguan government only claim around 1500 cases and little over 55 fatalities, eye witnesses report differently. People are dying. Dying because there is a lack of masks, a lack of disinfectant, a lack of personal hygiene items. And the cigar industry is affected, as factory workers and/or family members are infected and pass away.


In 2006, NICAFund was founded by Terri and Christopher Marlett, a power couple from the United States. Christopher is a successful entrepreneur and his mother’s side of the family is from Nicaragua. His family still lives in the Latin American country. During one of the family visits, the couple decided to help the community as they saw poverty but hope. The goal is not to provide just aid, but to provide jobs and skills for people to climb out of poverty.

Besides running a charity, Christoper Marlett is also investing in Nicaragua, creating jobs. He does that by investing in real estate. One of his projects is the old US Embassy in Managua. Marlett acquired the building and turned it into the largest call center in Nicaragua. Creating thousands of jobs for Nicaraguans.

Somos El Cambio

In the Somos El Cambio project participants works for necessities. Members sign up to work for thirteen weeks on one of the several projects serving their town. Projects rotate depending on the needs of the town and the season. NICAFund signs a contract with each participant to work six hours a week for thirteen weeks. When they complete all its parameters, we deliver the agreed-upon benefit. Benefits value at approximately twice the minimum wage rate set by the central government.

NICAFund has outlined strict rules that mandate participants to send their children to school or attend school if they are students, treat each other with respect and compassion, as well as show up on time and complete the tasks agreed to in the contract. Each participant takes a turn at leading a group to learn leadership skills. There is a waiting list for participants, as only 200 community members can participate annually. Projects under the Soros El Cambino initiative include trash collection, well crew, security detail, infrastructure maintenance, and other tasks to strengthen the community.


The second project that falls under NICAFund is Crea, (Connect, Reinforce, Educate, and Advance). This is the educational part of the charity. It is a Blended Learning Program that combines online English, Math, and Reading Educational Apps with enhanced face-to-face instruction to help children meet educational goals. With the help of this program, students will be college-ready at the end of high school. Due to a lack of books, training, and teaching materials, it is often impossible for teachers to get the students to the required levels.

Nicaragua has a population of 5 million people. Approximately 80% of which live in rural areas where infrastructure is weak and educational opportunities are few. NICAFund has been working with the ministry of education at a rural school for over ten years. In the last decade, approximately seventy-five 1st graders, and seven 12th graders enroll each year. That means that from Nica’s experience roughly 10% of all first graders graduate high school. The situation gets worse still. Currently, 93% of high school seniors who take the entrance exams for acceptance to the National University for Engineering (UNI) fail the exam. Sadly, the passage rates for other universities are not much better. The facts are clear; children are not learning what has been set out by Ministry of Education in the national curriculum by the time they graduate from high school. That is what CREA is trying to fix.


Where the charity is designed for long term help, the current covid-19 pandemic is asking for immediate, short-term, solutions. Art Garcia from Antigua Esteli offered his help. Art Garcia has been friends with the Marlett family for years. His network of friends and the family of his Nicaraguan better half are able to distribute covid-19 packages to families in need. An infrastructure that NICAFund does not have. NICAFund is fully registered as a charity and is cooperating with the Nicaraguan government. Since the charity is registered, large donations can be used for a tax deduction.

With the authorization of the local government, Covid-19 packages will be distributed in Esteli, Leon, Nagarote, and El Transito. Garcia’s wife and family are involved in selecting the families that need help the most. Their family has already suffered from Covid-19, as one of the elder family members passed away. Nicaragua does not have the medical capacity to help people that would have been saved in a developed country. NICAFund will be funding and providing the packages. Antigua Esteli is taking care of the distribution.

The Covid-19 packages include food for 14 days. Simple food such as rice, beans, oil, and vegetables. But they also include 4 face masks, hand sanitizer, and other necessities for personal hygiene. A package costs around $35. To help more people, Nicafund is asking for donations. Donating will help bring the price of the packages down, and will help more Nicaraguan families to protect themselves from the coronavirus. Just because Nicaragua isn’t reporting many cases, it does not mean that the illness isn’t causing havoc. The people of Nicaragua need our help. So if you can spare a few dollars, donate to www.nicafund.org/donate.

Ministry of Cigars - Charity Nicafund and Antigua Esteli asking for help
Ministry of Cigars - Charity Nicafund and Antigua Esteli asking for help

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