Stories from change-makers in Nicaragua

Francisca Mareling
Youth Advocate In Nicaragua
Francisca has to walk more than three hours to get to her nearest secondary school.
She takes the walk with other young people from her village every day, exposing herself to harassment or assault.

Her ambition is to accomplish something incredible, and this is what motivates her to keep going to school — despite the challenges she faces.

Fancisca has participated in Plan International workshops about girls’ and children’s rights. What she likes most about the workshops are the discussions around pregnancy prevention.

“I have been able to reflect on gender inequalities and the disadvantages girls face to study,” she says. “Sometimes boys make fun of us, because we go to the talks. They don’t see why girls of 13 or 14 shouldn’t get pregnant. It’s easier for boys to study if there are no girls left in class.”

Nicaragua has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Latin America, with 28% of women giving birth before the age of 18. But joining Plan’s work, Francisca is working to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in her community and is lobbying for girls to focus on education instead. And she’s hopeful for her own future.

“Since I was a child, I imagined wearing a nurse’s uniform,” she says. “I would like to take care of the sick and dedicate myself to health.”
Learn more about our Maternal & Child Health work
Girl In Plan Skills And Work Program
Like many other young women studying in Nicaragua’s capital city, Mareling has faced many challenges.
Money was very tight during her first year of college, and her family didn’t have the means to help her.

But Mareling was one of 122 young women who participated in a Plan project aimed to teach about sexual and reproductive health rights, business training, employment skills, protection from gender-based violence and entrepreneurship.

After the program, she and two of her classmates set up a new business making and selling goods from recycled objects. Today, their growing brand called Unique and Ecological Designs is thriving and sustaining its environmental ethos. Mareling’s next goal is to expand to new national and international markets.

“My incentive to start my own business was my desire to study and not being able to do so because I lacked money,” she says. “That was my motivation.”

This year, Mareling will finish her university degree in psychology.

“When women have the economic freedom, they are able to see the world from another perspective,” she says. “You do not need to ask for money for a bus ticket or to go out to eat. Now I can buy things myself. That helps you feel stronger and empowered.”
Learn more about our Skills & Work projects

Plan International has been working to improve children’s lives in Nicaragua since 1994.

Our work in Nicaragua

Sponsored Children In Nicaragua
Office & operations

Plan Nicaragua’s country office is located in Managua, with program unit offices in Madriz, Caribe Norte, Chontales, San Rafael del Sur and Chinandega.

Technical areas

Early childhood development, protection, sexual and reproductive health rights, youth economic empowerment, and disaster response and risk education.

Number of sponsored children

As of June 2022, people like you sponsor 21,082 children in Nicaragua through Plan International.

Why sponsor with Plan?

Gender equality is a fight we must all take on together. Through sponsorship, you can change lives and create long-term impact in communities.

The full circle of Fate

When you sponsor a child through Plan, you form an incredible friendship.

Sunny Days Magazine Child using a viewfinder and smiling

But that’s just the beginning. With Plan, you also have the unique opportunity to:

Birthday icon

Send them birthday gifts and cards.

Little Treasures icon

Give them special holiday presents called Little Treasures.

Sunny Days icon

Subscribe them to Plan’s educational kids’ magazine, Sunny Days.

Travel icon

Arrange a visit (pending any travel restrictions), with individual travel assistance from us.

Each gift offering is safely hand-delivered by us, and given to your child with personalized cards from you. It’s likely that the child you sponsor will have never seen anything like these gifts, and with the exception of Little Treasures they’re available year-round to make the bond between you and your sponsored child even stronger.

Meet a child to sponsor