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On April 18, 2018, demonstrators in several cities of Nicaragua began protests against President Daniel Ortega's decree of social security reforms that increased taxes and decreased benefits. After five days of unrest in which nearly thirty people were killed, Ortega announced the cancellation of the reforms. However, the opposition has grown - also through years of repressed protests - to denounce Ortega and demand his resignation, becoming one of the largest protests in his government's history and the deadliest civil conflict since the end of the Nicaraguan Revolution.

As a result of the unrest, the Nicaraguan public and international governments alike have called for the next presidential elections to be moved ahead, with the European Union supporting this move. (Wikipedia, 2018)

Time has only served to increase tension between the government and opposition, with violent demonstrations and protests a regular occurrence. The United States Department of State has issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory (out of a 4-point scale) to "reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime, civil unrest and limited healthcare availability." Similarly, our partners in-country have strongly advised against any travel. Therefore, Global Partners has suspended all volunteer travel to Nicaragua until further notice.

We remain committed to supporting our partners in Nicaragua during this difficult time and, when it is safe to return, fully intend to re-engage with our partners in serving the Nicaraguan people.

To learn our plans moving forward in Nicaragua, read the letter from our Nicaragua leadership team.

Read now

Why Nicaragua

Global Partners-Nicaragua aims to improve the health of the people and their communities in the Matagalpa region of Nicaragua by promoting education and collaboration with Nicaraguan medical providers to improve access to vital healthcare. The program also supports changes that are seen as valuable by the citizens of the region and can be sustained by their own efforts.

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, second only to Haiti. Most of the country is mountainous and rural, making it difficult for people to access needed services and opportunities. The state of Wisconsin and the Coulee Region in particular enjoy a long history of partnerships with Nicaragua, making it a natural fit for Global Partners.


Cervical Cancer Screening and Education

Providing training and equipment needed to perform procedures leading to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer for women in the Matagalpa Region of Nicaragua.

Why this matters: It is ready access to screening and preventative care services that has made cervical cancer quite rare in the U.S., but it is still the major killer of women under the age of 50 in Nicaragua.

Project Activities:

  • Training Nicaraguan providers on procedures to improve early detection and treatment
  • Donating cervical cancer screening supplies and equipment to clinics
  • Supporting a "Casa de Cancer" fund to support patients to travel to Managua for cancer treatment

Early Detection of Breast Cancer

Providing breast health education in rural communities to increase awareness of breast cancer

nursing education

Why this matters: Lack of effective prevention and detection programs in low-resource countries contributes to breast cancer being detected at more advanced stages, with lower survival rates.

Project Activities:

  • Offering breast health education to women in rural communities to promote understanding of breast cancer, self-breast exam and available resources.

Education Workshops

Teaching education program coordinators, government teachers and student tutors simple, effective and adaptable strategies and games they can use to encourage and reinforce reading and math skills to primary students.

Why this matters: Children who do not achieve reading and literacy skills in primary school will have lower educational and economic developmental opportunities in their future.

Project Activities:

  • Provide education workshops in rural areas focusing on literacy, math skills, as well as classroom planning and management skills.
  • Continue to support training for after school program staff
  • Continue to support classrooms with educational materials to promote a learning environment

Lending Library and Early Literacy Training

Establishing and maintaining small lending libraries in rural Nicaraguan communities to promote literacy through access to books and training.

Why this matters: In 2013, literacy assessments in a rural Matagalpa community showed 41 percent of families had no reading materials at home and four out of 10 adults could not read or write a simple sentence.

Project Activities:

  • Opening lending libraries in rural Nicaraguan communities
  • Providing early literacy training to adults in preparing their children to learn to read
  • Donating Spanish children's books to open and maintain lending libraries

Nursing Education and Training

Supporting the education of future nurses in Nicaragua through classroom training, hands-on workshops, and educational resources.

nursing education

Why this matters: In many communities of the Matagalpa region, nurses are the only healthcare provider staffing rural health posts, with the closest hospital more than two hours away by bus.

Project Activities:

  • Teaching nursing students each year and providing hands-on labs in topics including: care of ill neonates, CPR, managing obstetrical complications, lacerations, suturing, burns, and breast cancer awareness
  • Providing graduating nurses from La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN) with the official nursing protocol manual

Vascular Surgery and Training

Providing training for Nicaraguan providers to diagnose and treat varicose veins for patients living in the Matagalpa Region.

Why this matters: Varicose-vein disease is a common condition that, left untreated, can lead to debilitating symptoms and complications. Treatment is costly and access is limited for individuals living in the Matagalpa Region.

Project Activities:

  • Continuing advanced vascular ultrasound education with Fara Clinic providers to increase their knowledge and capacity to treat patients who come from rural areas.
  • Diagnosing and treating varicose veins to increase access to services and improve quality of life for affected patients.

Vision Initiative

Providing comprehensive eye exams and glasses to rural Nicaraguans who do not have access to this level of care.

Why this matters: The cost of an eye exam and single vision eyeglasses in Nicaragua is equivalent to one month's salary ($60-100).

Project Activities:

  • Providing comprehensive, dilated eye exams to several hundred people in rural communities annually
  • Dispensing prescription glasses and sunglasses, and obtaining custom-made eyeglasses for patients with difficult prescriptions
  • Creating a sustainable network of providers, including recent graduates from the La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN) Optometry program
  • Exploring opportunities for Ophthalmologists to provide eye procedures in Nicaragua


The work of Global Partners-Nicaragua is supported by many local organizations, as well as partners in Nicaragua.

Local Partnerships

  • Aquinas High School: collected baseball equipment and apparel
  • Blessed Sacrament School: donated Spanish reading books
  • La Crosse and La Crescent Rotary Clubs: supported purchase of water filters
  • La Crosse County Public Health Department: provided baby scale for Santa Celia community health assessment
  • La Crosse Radio Group: donated advertisements to promote the housing project raffle
  • Longfellow Middle School: supported purchase of water filters and provided school supplies
  • North Woods International School: held a school-wide read-a-thon to raise funds used to purchase desks, textbooks and school supplies
  • Rotary Works Foundation: supported purchase of water filters
  • Travel Leaders: donated a portion of the grand prize for the housing project raffle
  • Viterbo University Interpreter Program: provided interpreters to support volunteer teams; provides ongoing translation and interpretation support

Nicaragua Partnerships

  • Fara Clinic, a clinic operated by Fara Foundation in downtown Matagalpa. Fara Clinic provides services virtually free ($1.25 for any visit) so that Matagalpans are able to afford the care they may otherwise not receive.
  • Rainbow Network, a non-governmental organization (NGO) working in over 100 rural Nicaraguan communities to end extreme poverty. Through Rainbow Network, Global Partners has developed a partnership with Santa Celia, a poor, rural village on a coffee plantation in the mountainous region of Matagalpa.
  • The Lily Project, a Nicaraguan NGO that provides women's health care & education, particularly to those without access.
  • Matagalpa Regional Hospital, a 300 bed hospital serving an area with more than 500,000 individuals, with a limited number of services available.

Interested in learning more about the Nicaragua partnerships or volunteering? Check out trip dates and get more information

Or contact Global Partners office at (608) 775-9883 or

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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