The enrollment of new children in our “Child-Focused Community Transformation” (CFCT) program allowed the identification of children that were not registered in the Civil Registry. This Government office is responsible for registering every child that is born and enrolling them as a citizen, giving them a name and therefore responsibilities and rights as citizens. During the period that FH was beginning community work in Somotillo, FH staff realized that more than 45 percent of the kids in the community between the ages of 5 and 12 did not have a name and were not registered as citizens, as if they did not even exist or had never been born. Upon discovering this problem, we began walking with leaders, pastors, and teachers to approach the local government, asking them to be flexible and to give families the opportunity to follow through with this procedure. The impact this had was that 95 percent of the children now have a document that validates their identity.
Somotillo municipality is the new Region where FH Nicaragua began to work last Summer. It is located in the State of Chinandega, 6 km from the Honduran border. This location is associated with a high rate of trafficking of drugs, constant migration of townspeople, juvenile prostitution and illegal trafficking of merchandise for commercial use without payment of customs taxes. It has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS due to the constant migration from one country to another. The most common crops of this area are corn, sorgo, sesame seed, watermelon, and at slightly lower levels, livestock. The principal source of provisions for the families is their own farming in which they produce crops for personal consumption and to sell in small quantities within the community. The soil is dry and eroded and the climate is unstable, with a high risk of flooding or drought. In the communities where FH works, there is a lack of access to public services such as drinkable water, electricity, health facilities, and education.
Local strategy of FH
FH began working in Somotillo about four months ago. To date, the biggest achievement is that more than 95 percent of the children in the communities in which FH works have been registered in the local governmental offices. This offers the children the right to education, to be legal citizens of the country, to have an identity, and to have access to services and jobs both inside and outside their community. In these same communities, there are many adults that were not registered upon birth and that to this date are deprived of the right to education, health services, decision making and honorable jobs. FH is also assisting the community adults to get registry and gain citizenship. This is the reason FH Nicaragua praises our Lord for giving us the opportunity to work in His Kingdom through our work in these communities. Now, more than 200 children will not have the same fate as their parents.
Nature of the Project
With the little time we have had to work in these communities, the relationships with pastors, leaders, and teachers of the schools are essential. Some parents had children 12 years of age that were not registered in the Governmental system. The community leaders and FH staff worked with the parents to guide them through the process of registering their children with two main goals: to give their children an identity and to be able to enroll their children in the CFCT program. It was not an easy job. Often this takes a change in mindsets, time, paperwork, and financial investment for payments of fees and lawyers. The leaders and the teachers asked the authorities for flexibility with these families, stating that they are families of low income, are often illiterate, and lack knowledge of the importance of this process. Since they were people themselves who also had not been registered in their childhood, the local authorities could not deny their request. More than 200 children were registered in less than four days in the month of April, allowing more than 500 children to be enrolled in the CFCT program.
Results (November 2010)
· Strengthening of the relationships between FH and the leaders of the community, teachers, local governmental officials and pastors.
· More than 200 children enrolled in the National Registry.
· More than 500 children enrolled in the CFCT program.
Impact in terms of FH’s Vision, Mission and Values
With the help of FH Nicaragua, the residents of La Flor, Los Limones, Los Balcones and La Pavana were informed of the importance of registering their children immediately upon birth. The leaders have been encouraged to work directly with the families and teachers in all aspects that relate to wholistic childhood development. They also were made aware of local government support to complete the registration process.