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Nicaragua is the poorest country in Central America and second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Since 2016, Unity 4 Orphans has provided a zero-cost English as a Second Language (ESL) program in the rural village of Miramar, where over 60 students, ages 9-19, are enrolled each year, advancing through 12 levels of ESL instruction. We believe that learning English presents a pathway to better jobs and more secure futures, breaking the cycle of poverty. We also employ a licensed child psychologist who travels to the community each week to counsel our students and their families.
According to the UN, in the Northern Baja area of Mexico, 6,000 children live on the streets or under dangerous and/or abusive situations, and thousands more live in extreme poverty. Mexico does not have a foster care or welfare system; therefore, private orphanages are the norm. These homes rely entirely on individual donations, usually from the US or Canada. Since 2010, U4O has been guiding groups of volunteers to Baja Mexico every month to visit children in these orphan homes.
Located 10 miles from Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on three sides. The area is best known for world-class resorts and golf courses, but relying heavily, if not solely, on seasonal tourism, most locals live in extreme poverty. Children often quit school to help their families and, without education, they have little hope to break the cycle of poverty. U4O provides ESL instruction and a feeding program to local children to help them grow up healthy and create more opportunities for their future.
Over half of the population in rural Ecuador lives below the poverty line. Lack of education is one of the main causes, and the financial burden of proper schooling makes it less accessible. Many families rely on child labor to make ends meet, and in rural areas only 10% of children attend high school. Once they begin working, they rarely complete enough schooling to help them rise above poverty. Unity 4 Orphans is extending our ESL program and holistic interventions to help Ecuadorian children thrive and grow.
Many children in San Diego county live in poverty and more than 15% of the population is affected by financial hardship. This is often due to single-parent households rarely bringing in enough income to provide for a higher cost of living. Although educational opportunities are more available than in other areas we serve, students from low-income households are less likely to receive the help they need. Through after-school programs offering educational intervention and tutoring, we aim to open doors for local children to thrive in school.
In what countries does Unity 4 Orphans work?
Our programs began in Mexico and Nicaragua and have expanded to include Ecuador and our hometown of San Diego, California. In the future, we plan to bring transformation to vulnerable children living in even more communities around the world.
Are the programs in each location the same?
Each location has a primary focus, but all programs are delivered in some capacity at each location to ensure delivery of our holistic care. For example, our Punta Mita location focuses on Nutrition 4 Change, but we do also offer ESL classes. Similarly, Tijuana is home to our Play 4 Change initiative, but counseling and educational intervention are also offered to children.
How does Unity 4 Orphans select communities in each location?
We work with trusted friends, supporters, and ministry partners with in-country connections, benefitting from their relational capital, as well as with like-minded organizations and ministry leaders who share our vision and can partner with our mission.
Are there multiple U4O schools in Nicaragua?
At this time we have one ESL program in Nicaragua where children living in poverty can receive ESL education and holistic support each Saturday and Sunday. These classes take place at a local public school with minimal facilities, which is one of the reasons we are working to build a multi-purpose facility to house our program.
How many orphanages does Unity 4 Organization have?
We support several orphanages in Tijuana, Mexico through finances, counseling services, and the heart of our mission–service trips. Join us to see what it’s all about.
How do U4O’s programs differ in Mexico from Nicaragua?
Holistic support of the children in both Mexico and Nicaragua include counseling, proper nutrition, and basic needs such as school supplies. Our Education 4 Change program in Nicaragua delivers ESL education, which is made possible through individual sponsorships. In Mexico our largest programs are Play 4 Change in Tijuana and Nutrition 4 Change in Punta Mita.
What programs will U4O offer in Ecuador?
Our Education 4 Change offerings in Ecuador will be similar to Nicaragua. We aim to bring brighter futures to children living in poverty through education, including English as a second language classes, and holistic care, such as counseling and nutrition.
What does Unity 4 Orphans do for poor communities in Mexico?
For children struggling with food insecurity, we provide weekly feeding programs in Punta Mita where kids can come for a hot meal. Families are also invited to participate in cleanup and other tasks to improve the neighborhood and receive groceries to last through the week, including fresh produce and essential items like rice and cooking oil.
Can I travel to Latin America to visit the children?
At this time we only offer service trips to Mexico, but in the future of our organization, we hope to take short-term trips to Ecuador and other locations where we support vulnerable children.
Does U4O offer short-term missions trips?
The best way to begin serving with Unity 4 Orphans is to join us on a single day service trip to Tijuana, Mexico. These trips occur monthly and spots fill up quickly, so make sure to register early.
Does Unity 4 Orphans have any programs for vulnerable children in the US?
One of our newest initiatives is an educational intervention program in San Diego that helps students from low-income families. Children in grades K-5 receive tutoring in math, reading, and other subjects to make sure they don’t fall behind in their education.
Are children in the US really in need of U4O’s programs?
In the United States, about 1 in 6 children live in poverty, a rate that has stayed relatively consistent over the years. Rates are higher for minority children and those living in communities with harder-hit economies and lack of quality education.
What does a feeding program entail?
A feeding program provides a place where children can come once a week and receive a meal, play games, and learn about Jesus. We aim to help them feel loved and seen, as well as provide nourishment.
Can I volunteer at the orphanages U4O supports for a longer period of time?
The children and staff at the orphanages love to have visitors and welcome those who wish to serve for longer than our one-day service trips. Because this entails vetting and approval from orphanage leadership, please contact us directly for more information.
Can I travel to Nicaragua to meet my sponsored child?
While Unity 4 Orphans does not yet offer trips to Nicaragua, in the future we hope to do so. In the meantime, we love to help sponsors connect with their child via email. The kids love it when sponsors reach out and with the help of our program staff in Nicaragua, typically respond within a few weeks.
I want to help children living in poverty, but am not sure where to start. Which country has the greatest need?
Children plagued by poverty can be found everywhere in the world, and the important thing is to just start somewhere. Many people who want to help find connection and fulfillment through our volunteer service trips to Mexico each month, and generously give of their time. Others choose to sponsor a child and ensure their educational and holistic needs are met to provide a brighter future and break the cycle of poverty. No matter how you choose to give, Unity 4 Orphans is always up front about how funds are used and happy to answer any questions you may have about where your donation is being applied.