The city of Matagalpa is the capital of the central Nicaraguan province of the same name, one of the biggest and most densely populated regions of country. Its economic and social situation is quite bad.
Matagalpa is still suffering from the devastating consequences of the Nicaraguan civil war. Agriculture (mainly coffee plantations and cattle breeding) is the most important economic sector; nevertheless, many farm workers cannot make a living from what they earn. Improvements in infrastructure would be badly needed: the roads are in bad condition and the majority of the households do not have electricity and running water.
There are insufficient medical supplies and many children suffer from malnutrition and deficiency symptoms. Often children cannot attend school because their parents ask them to contribute to the family income by selling things in the street or by other activities.
The city of Matagalpa is situated 127 km from Managua and at an altitude of 700 m above sea level. There are many signs that the city has developed on the site of an ancient indigenous town. The names of the surrounding villages are mostly derived from the Nahuatl language. The town charter of the city of Matagalpa is from 1862; a big fiesta is celebrated every year on 14 February in memory of this event. Another big holiday of Matagalpa is 24 September, the celebration of Virgin Mary (Virgen de las Mercedes).
The decision to build a new SOS Children's Village was based on two important facts:
- There is a growing number of children in need in the region and
- all the other Nicaraguan SOS Children's Villages were filled to capacity at that moment.
The construction of SOS Children's Village and SOS Social Centre Matagalpa started in 1999. The works on the large building site (24,000 sqm.) on the outskirts of the town of Matagalpa took until the end of 2000. The SOS Children's Village consists of 11 family houses, which provide a home for up to 99 children, the house of the village director, a library, an amphitheatre and an administrative building with a multi-purpose hall. There is also a playground for the children.
In July 2005, an SOS Youth Facility was established. There, youths prepare for independent living while they are still doing their education or training.
SOS Social Centre Matagalpa started its work near the SOS Children's Village in January 2001.
It includes a day-care centre for babies and little children and organizes childminding programmes where one of the mothers from the local community looks after the children of the other families. Furthermore, the SOS Social Centre offers training classes for parents (especially for single mothers). On the one hand, there is professional training which is intended to assure the families' income; on the other hand, there are also personal development courses for the mothers and parents of the children who are looked after in the childminding programmes and in the day-care centre. All these measures help to strengthen the families of the local community so that as many children as possible can be brought up in their biological families and will not need any kind of foster care.