The NGO American Nicaraguan Foundation (ANF) announced the closure of its operations in Nicaragua after 30 years of work this Thursday. The decision was made due to the “decrease in international donations,” its founders informed in a statement released on their social networks.
“We want to thank God for the opportunity he gave us over the last 30 years to carry out non-profit activities in Nicaragua through development and humanitarian assistance programs,” said Alfredo and Theresita Pellas, founders of ANF.
In Nicaragua, ANF, formed by members of the Pellas family, developed programs for water and sanitation, agriculture, education, housing, humanitarian aid, and health for some of the most vulnerable communities in the country. In 2020 alone, the first year of the pandemic, more than 170,000 Nicaraguans benefited from the programs they carried out, the organization details.
These programs include students who received food and school supplies, people who received houses, children who recovered from extreme malnutrition, farmers who received supplies and skills, and families affected by covid-19, or hurricanes who received food packages, among others.
After the announcement of the closure, many of the beneficiaries of these projects expressed dismay on their social networks. “Both the children and the teaching and administrative staff of the Sueños de Luisa dining hall very much regret the closure of this Foundation, since it was of great benefit to the poorest and most unprotected,” said a user.
As ANF explains on its website, this organization has received non-profit awards for its work in Nicaragua, including four stars from Charity Navigator for five consecutive years (2015-2019) and the 2020 Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. They also detail that their main strategic partner is Food for the Poor.
“Food for the Poor is ANF's main strategic partner and the main contributor to ANF's work to serve the impoverished who do not have access to the basic necessities of life.” In 2020, through this donor partner, they obtained more than 560 tons of food that were distributed to families affected by the pandemic and hurricanes Eta and Iota.
Corazón Contento also closed
This is the second NGO to announce the closure of its operations for this same reason in the last seven days. On May 6, the Corazon Contento Comprehensive Development Center, which carried out projects with people with disabilities, reported its closure because the main donor is leaving the country.
“Our main donor, Fundación Trabaja, is withdrawing. We appreciate all the support you have given us during this time. We hope to find a solution soon so that we can continue serving them,” they said in a statement.
This Center develops programs that help children and adults who suffer from a disability with psychological therapy, physiotherapy, and language stimulation, and also has a social and labor insertion project.
“It breaks my heart to read this news. They do an incredible job, and I am very happy to have been able to be part of it for a short time and to share and learn from such an exceptional team”, wrote one of the beneficiaries.
The closure of these NGOs occurs in a complex context for this type of organization in Nicaragua because, in the last four months, the Daniel Ortega regime has canceled the legal status of 144 associations and foundations, which had projects for vulnerable populations. According to a CONFIDENCIAL monitoring, in the last four years, Ortega cancelled of legal status and registration to operate of 218 national and foreign organizations.
In addition to these two NGOs that close due to a lack of donors, there are others that have also left the country in recent years after the passage of the Foreign Agents Law. Representatives of non-governmental organizations in Nicaragua confided to CONFIDENCIAL that Daniel Ortega's regime is “killing them softly” with the imposition of legislation and bureaucratic procedures.
Likewise, many of the associations that have lost their legal status have denounced that for several years the authorities refuse to receive their financial reports and other documents and later use this to eliminate their right to operate, claiming they weren’t delivered.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff