Ice bucket challenges wouldn’t go over that well here in many parts of Nicaragua (and throughout Central America), where we are facing the worst drought since 1976. This is what nine months without rain looks like…
There are normally two plantings in Nicaragua. The first takes place in May, just as the rains begin. This year, the farmers planted, but the rains never came. So the entire crop was lost. This translates into no work for people who are barely scraping by as it is.
“A severe drought has ravaged crops in Central America and as many as 2.81 million people are struggling to feed themselves,” according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
And due to those crop failures, the supply of rice and beans — both staples in Nicaragua’s diet, as well as throughout much of this drought-stricken Central America — has dramatically decreased. We’ve personally seen bean prices as much as five times what they were earlier this year.
A friend recently picked up a 15-year-old hitch-hiking into Managua from one of the worst-hit farming areas. He is an orphan being raised by his uncle, a farm-owner. But due to the drought, his uncle had to let go of all his workers. He sent his nephew to the city to find work. Can you imagine being 15 and hearing, “You’re pretty much an adult now and because I can no longer care for your needs, it’s time you go out on your own.”
He hadn’t eaten in three days when this missionary picked him up. Our friends spent two days trying to find him work, but came up empty handed. This young man has no birth certificate (like most rural poor), nor any sort of documentation that would be necessary to get “a real job.”
No education. No parents. No support whatsoever….
So the missionaries made the extremely difficult decision to put him on a bus back to his hometown, with enough rice and beans to feed him and his uncle’s family for three months… all the while praying the rain would come for the second planting (which normally occurs now), to bring work, and food, and hope.
Would you believe… $30 is all it takes to provide enough rice and beans for a small Nicaraguan family for an entire month?! And yet without rain and without work, it’s $30 more than they can afford.
The Rice and Beans Challenge
The ABWE missionaries here are challenging those not affected by this drought to exchange one dinner out for one dinner of rice and beans at home… and then send the money saved to buy food for these starving Nicaraguans.
Here’s how you can accept the Rice and Beans Challenge:
- Pick a night when you might have normally gone out to dinner and opt to stay at home instead.
- Invite friends over to double the blessing!
- Learn about Nicaragua and the current drought crisis.
- Prepare traditional gallo pinto (Nicaraguan-style beans and rice) for your meal.
- Donate the amount you would have spent on a dinner out (mark your gift for Nicaragua ICP account # 0725313-002)
- Take a picture of your family enjoying the rice and beans challenge and post it to the Facebook page