A group of ten young exiled Nicaraguan professionals have joined efforts in the initiative “Lend your brother a hand.” They help their fellow Nicaraguans through the monthly delivery of food packages and a hygiene kits.
These young people organized themselves with the idea of raising funds and buying food packages for deliver to families who fled to Costa Rica due to the persecution, imprisonment, and tortures of which they were victims in Nicaragua under the Ortega regime.
“In 2019, each of us worked with a group of migrants or sponsored a family. I was very supportive of migrants in the legal area. In 2020, with the pandemic, the few Nicaraguans who were able to stabilize themselves lost everything again,” she noted.
“Within a month of the start of the pandemic, more than 200,000 layoffs had been registered, most of them Nicaraguans. So, that was the trigger that made us say: let’s stop helping individually and join efforts,” explained Ana Carolina Alvarez Gil, president of this organization.
According to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses of Costa Rica in the second quarter of 2020 alone compared to 2019, some 190,000 people lost their employment due to Covid-19.
In their first joint action, they raised funds to buy food for about ten large families. “There were cases of women who for days had been giving water with tomato sauce to their children. We decided this was our priority,” recalls Alvarez. She is an attorney who during the 2018 protests gave legal counsel to political prisoners and their families. For that reason, she was besieged and persecuted by Ortega supporters.
Database for “Lend your brother a hand”
With the support of civic and human rights organizations in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, Alvarez created a database of migrants. People who had been affected by the regime. “We began to choose according to the characteristics of the families. If there were children or elderly with severe health conditions. We began to select what we could deliver each month,” she mentioned.
Initially, the funds came from the ten professionals and their friends. However, through social networks they have made their work known, and are now supported by foreigners and Nicaraguans abroad.
1,403 food packages a year
In 2020, they delivered a total of 1,403 food packages to Nicaraguans who are in Costa Rica. Likewise, to Nicaraguans who were stranded for ten days on the Penas Blancas border, between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and others affected by hurricanes Eta and Iota, which hit the country in November. They also donated about 250 hygiene kits to prevent Covid-19.
The average cost of each food package is 25 dollars. Each one contains three kilos of rice, two of beans, sugar, oil, oatmeal, biscuits, pasta, powdered milk, cornstarch, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, pink sauce, cans of tuna, powdered milkshake, toilet paper and other personal hygiene items.
“What has amazed us the most is the large amount of toys, clothes, school supplies and shoes donated by Nicaraguans who live here (in Costa Rica). Every month there is an impressive amount of donations, which due to lack of resources we cannot always pick up,” Alvarez said.
“Lend your brother a hand” recently began its process of incorporating as a non-profit organization under Costa Rican law. That is needed to obtain the support of some large companies. However, when this process is finished, they plan to help Nicaraguans re-enter the workforce in Costa Rica.
“Without neglecting food assistance, we want to evolve and seek ways to reinsert all these people into the workforce. We want to make announcements, filter potentials, and make alliances with companies to given them job opportunities,” said the Nicaraguan woman.