According to the United States Embassy in Nicaragua, “Nicaragua is principally a source and transit country forwomen and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution and forced labor.” Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, leaving much of the population vulnerable to fake promises of income and exploitation from traffickers. In addition to forced prostitution and labor, a culturally acceptable practice of arranged marriages is very common. This practice is a symptom of poverty and an economic coping strategy for families to support themselves.
The work of Accion Medica Cristiana (AMC) is focused on training community and church leadership to become effective catalysts in raising awareness about the causes and abuses of human trafficking. Through a training conducted in 2014, AMC developed skills of church leaders in prevention and early detection of different forms of human trafficking, as well as addressing the consequences of trafficking and restoration of victims’ health. This empowered churches to become catalysts of change in their communities in three ways:
1) Raising awareness with families about causes and abuses of human trafficking.
2) Introducing families to new laws and public policies designed to protect vulnerable people.
3) Building linkages between communities and regional support networks for addressing and preventing human trafficking.
A total of 42 participants were a part of this project, and as a result, 10 churches have implemented prevention plans, 35 leaders met criteria for a certificate from the training, and 11 AMC staff were equipped to replicate the training.