Central America is not just about Aztec and Maya ruins, or margaritas and burritos; nor volcanoes and rain forest. There are also the people, many of them are poor, very poor. I met many of them.

In Managua, I met the poorest of the poor.

Thanks to Lillian, a friend from couchsurfing, I got the opportunity to visit the children from the Chureca , and Los Quinchos project.

The Los Quinchos project  takes care of the glue-sniffing street children in Managua. They are always invited to the filter house to see how they would live if they choose to give up street life and join a residency program that supplies a home and education. Getting them off sniffing is not that difficult, but they often lapse back into it, one of the effects of glue sniffing is that they do not feel the hunger.

The Chureca project feeds and tries to educate some 45 children, who live in Chureca, the largest dumpster in Central America. It is funded by a Quaker association. 

At first I had problems to find a taxi driver who was willing to bring me there, far too dangerous, they said. Finally I found one who was willing to bring me there, but just for half an hour, and for a prohibitive price. Then we drove to more and more desolate neighborhoods, until we finally arrived at the dump place from Managua. This is where these children live with their family, if they have one. Many are the children of prostitutes, many more have no father. Often they are beaten up and sexually abused. Then the boys leave their family, and live on the street, while the girls stay with their mother. They work at the dump; scavenge for metals and other valuables. Often they also have to eat rotten food coming from restaurants and a nearby slaughterhouse. Some 600 kids live and work here in the waste and dirt. This place is really dangerous; there are many criminals around who have nothing to lose. This is a world on its own; here is no police, the strongest rule.

Bismarck (that’s his real name) takes care of some of these kids. The youngest ones are just 5 years young, and already have to dig in the garbage. He tries to educate them, get them off glue sniffing, teaches them to read and write. Sometimes it works. As soon as garbage trucks entered the site, some kids jumped on it and drove like this to the place where the garbage was dumped. I could not go there, Bismarck refused to come with me, this place is just too dangerous for a foreigner.