Give to the poor – not to the companies that make millions off the poor.

One of the things you do not see much of in Central America is beggars. At least I have not until I arrived in Matagalapa.

Here you see the kids. The kids are the strings to the heart.

Remember, average wages in Nicaragua are about $5.00 per day – not per hour.

I saw the conditions in Casares, but there was nothing that was available for children to go to. Everyone that they came into contact with were as poor as them.

Here in Matagalpa, there are those that have, and those that do not have.

Similar to the contrast that is beginning to occur in the “Industrialized” nations. That is what the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd is protesting about. You have a small percentage of people doing real well, and a large percentage that are loosing their wealth. Statistics prove it, people experience it in their daily lives and see the favouritism by the government.

In Nicaragua it has always been the haves and the have-nots. So, are they going to complain about the way life has always been?

I do not believe in supporting beggars. I think there is a way to always make buck. But, kids who are 7 or 8 years old – what choices do they have?

I was having coffee and crepes at a place across from the hotel. The kids came in, asking for a cordoba – 22 cordoabas to $1.00. They were asking for less than a nickel. I told the kid, “No tiendo – I do not understand” The more I thought about what the kid said, I finally understood what he was asking for.

The waitress shooed him out of the café.

I thought to myself that it was not a whole heck of a lot to ask for. Why would i not give a kid a nickel? No matter how bad my finances are, a nickel is going to do what?

By giving a nickel, do I encourage a kid to beg?

I see kids lugging 10, 20 pieces of wood on their backs so they can take something to their parents (parent) so they can cook any food that they may have. (I know from eating at street places, the food for 30 or 40 cordobas ($1.50 to $2.00) aint a whole heck of a lot.

So, I wonder what these kids, carrying the wood back to their shacks, are going to.

I give in. I walk out of the café, now the kid has a brother and sister – it’s a gang! (Golly, I can be so funny at times!)

I give each a cordoaba (22.6 per US$) and they immediately go to their mother who is sell bananas and limes in front of the hotel I am staying at.

Helped out a whole family with a donation of about 15 cents.

Welcome to the real world of how most people survive – over 2 billion people live on less than $5.00 per day.

Now, don’t go wild and crazy donating tons of money or making loans through Kiva.

This is a racket set up for those that are touched by stories of the poor throughout the world. Kiva and other “lenders” are as bad or worse than the big banks – charging interest with rates up to 30%. These “loan sharks” interest is usury, and the goal is to keep the locals in revolving debt – amazing how people fall for this stuff.

Think lending to poor people is small potato’s?

Here is a list of registered websites just in Nicaragua. They usually have the nicest buildings in town, drive 4×4 vehicles (Which are taxed a to, so they are very expensive – bought with profits on those individual loans), have air conditioning (most do not have a/c in Central America – electricity costs are very high) and live above the standards of those they lend money too. The list, again, just for Nicaragua:




ANFAM Credito

Asociación Alternativa




Caritas Esteli


Coop 20 de Abril

Coop Avances

Cooperativa Armonía

Cooperativa Iaguei

Cooperativa La Unión

Cooperativa Moderna



Financiera Fama




Fundación 4i-2000

Fundación León 2000







Pro Mujer – NIC

ProCredit – NIC



Does this kind of give you the idea that many companies are making a bit of money from  “loaning” money to the poor?

You want to give a loan to someone?

Contact the list of travel blogs, find someone who is actually traveling (like me), and make arrangements that way. The travellers who are actually traveling usually have a conscience, unlike the loan companies, and will help you help others.

Amazing what a little donation will do for people in 3rd world countries.

I do not condone begging, but when their ain’t much else for a person to do – I give when I can.

Cheers for now.

About John Wilson

Traveler, writer and photographer. No home now, just traveling the world in search of the lost chord.
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10 Responses to Give to the poor – not to the companies that make millions off the poor.

  1. Robert says:

    Hi John,

    Great honest article. Enjoyed reading your perspective on these companies that lend to the poor. Are there any non-profits/ social entrepreneurs in the area that lend out to the poor without the focus on profits?

    I’ve noticed a large movement toward Social Entrepreneurship and more and more people are keeping the focus on the main goal; which is helping people.


    Uniting Travelers

  2. Not sure if you are familiar with Matt (aka Expert Vagabond) from He has a place on his site for people to donate, and then he picks a charity in each country he visits to personally hand over the money. Pretty great idea.

  3. John Wilson says:

    Hi Robert,
    There is a Foundation that is called The Ambros Foundation. They are based in Honduras and work in a city called Sabatagrande – about an hour south of Teguciagalpa, the capitol of Honduras. It was a foundation that was set up by a church after Hurricane Mitch devastated the area. It is run by Holland Mills.
    His view point is incentive based – you build the walls, he’ll give you money to help buy a roof – or windows. The locals HAVE to do something in order to receive monies.
    He also has an after school program for poor children, and a lunch program for the poor elderly folks.
    He does have 1 or 2 administrative people, but they do not live much better than the people they help.
    Also, if you would like, you can donate o my web site, mark it as “donation for locals” and I will pass it along to a needy family – just a random act of kindness.
    Welcome to the website, and I do appreciate your comment.

  4. John Wilson says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    That is a great idea – I think I will incorporate that in my blog – just a random act of kindness to a poor family.
    I had read bits of Expert Vagabond, but did not know he was donating funds to local charities. Great idea.
    Thanks for the tip, and be safe in Buenos Aires!
    John D. Wilson.
    PS. Have you thought about doing that in Buenos Aires, Stephanie?

  5. tony pitts says:

    Hey John I hope you made it back from managua ok. you just got to love the donations to our poor police officers today lol. I `ll be keeping an eye on you from time to time and I wont hold back on the prayers to Jesus Christ my friend.


  6. John Wilson says:

    Yup, made it back in one piece, no problems.
    Donation is the kind word for giving money to the police today. buggers!
    Nope, do not hold back the prayers, always need those.
    Have a safe trip back to the USA.
    And thanks a bunch, Tony, greatly appreciated.
    John D. Wilson

  7. tony pitts says:

    hey John

    I thought I would drop you a line. Wondering what your doing for the holidays I liked your article about supporting the poor in matagalpa and not the big companies that use the poor for there own gain. I ‘d like to take that one step farther if you ask the beggar what they need instead of just submitting to there request. most of the time ask them what they need it for and try to engage in a conversation with them most of the time its for something to eat and go take them somewhere and get an affordable meal or what ever. many times the parents take that money away from the child and drink or use drugs. but if you take the time and try to listen and feed them. they might just feel that someone loves them in this sad world. and John don’t forget that Jesus Christ does love and you will be blessed for your acts of love.

    your friend
    Tony Pitts

  8. John Wilson says:

    Hi Tony,
    Good to hear from you.
    Good suggestions about engaging in a conversation with the poor person.
    Yupper, some places are very sad, and it is good to pass along the idea that someone does care for the individual.
    Plans for the Holiday?
    I really do not have any.
    Not sure where I’ll be, so just playing it by ear.
    I have no doubt that my God loves me, but it’s always nice to get a reminder of it, Tony.
    If we do not touch base before Christmas, may you and your family have a blessed and happy day.
    John D. Wilson

  9. We have been looking into donating with Kiva for a few weeks now and arrived at the same conclusion. The more we looked into these micro-loans, the more we feel we’re not really directly helping the poor but instead helping microfinance agencies keep their business going with insanely high interest rates back at the people who we set out to help in the first place. We had originally wanted to set up a Kiva account but have hesitated because of precisely the point you’ve called out. Wondering how best we can make a real impact in this world… still figuring that out.

  10. John Wilson says:

    Hi Shirlene,
    Why not just pass out the money ourselves?
    Or take 3 months in one spot and help out someone we meet?
    It’s not all about getting paid back.
    What do you think?

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