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The vibrant landscape of Nicaragua includes breathtaking lakes and active volcanoes. Behind the beautiful scenery, however, the six million people who make up Central America’s largest country, are among the poorest in the western hemisphere. In 2005, Hand in Hand Ministries developed a program to enhance the educational opportunities for children living in Managua, in hopes of breaking the cycle of poverty.

Hand in Hand’s Nicaragua Video • Brochure

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Pathway to Change Program: Child Sponsorship

Hand in Hand launched its Pathway to Change Program in 2005 with just three students. The program has grown to include nearly 100 children ages six to sixteen, who are provided with everything they need to thrive in a private school setting. Books, uniforms, tuition assistance, tutoring, English classes and family counseling are essential ingredients for academic success. We celebrate the accomplishments of 34 program graduates who have continued their studies at local universities.

Parents are very involved and proud to have their kids in the program. They commit to the care and supervision of their child’s schoolwork and provide symbolic monthly payments to maintain their child’s enrollment in the program. Our Children’s Center provides a welcoming space for:

  • Daily Tutoring
  • Reading Support
  • A Children’s Lending Library
  • Lots of fun & creative kids activities
  • Regular Meetings with parents

Despite all the upheaval with Covid-19, our wonderfully resilient Pathway to Change students and staff have made it through the past 2+ years. Our kids were extremely fortunate to have been in private school during the pandemic, where online classes were at least available to them. Imperfect though it was, with overwhelmed teachers, faulty internet connections and outdated devices, our kids were able to continue to learn, while many of their peers in other schools lost the whole year.  

The 2023 school year began at the end of January and we have 58 children enrolled at Instituto Loyola in Managua, 17 at Colegio la Asuncion in Leon and 6 at Colegio Maria Eugenia in Leon.

The Pathway to Change Program remains in a relatively stable financial position because of our child sponsors who provide financial assistance for nearly half of our student population. Full sponsorship costs $2,000 per year and covers the cost of tuition, uniforms, books, school supplies, transportation, nutritional support, counseling, family support services, English classes, and swimming lessons. It is a comprehensive educational program designed to open the door to a different life for our students and their families. Sponsors receive quarterly reports on their sponsored child’s academic progress and are encouraged to correspond with their child through our Hand in Hand staff. 

If you would like to learn more about becoming a child sponsor please contact

Pathway to Change Report Card

Below are the 1st quarter results in 2023 for the Pathway Program students in Managua and León, with all averages calculated using core-curriculum courses (Spanish, English, Mathematics, Science, Philosophy, and Social Studies) 

  • 81 students completed the 1st quarter in the Pathway program 
  • 22 Pathway students (or 27%) finished 1st or 2nd in their class 
  • 32 is the average class size for our Pathway students
  • 40 Pathway scholars (or 49%) achieved outstanding averages of 90% or more
  • 61 of our 81 students (or 75%) were in the top 10 in their class
  • 45 of our 81 students (or 55%) were in the top 5 in their class 
  • 71 of our 81 Pathway students (or 87%) were in the top half of their class 
  • 67 of our 81 Pathway students (or 82%) achieved a grade average of 80% or better  

These results are encouraging as usually the 1st term results tend to reflect the students’ hangover from two months’ summer vacation. 

In addition to our primary and secondary school students, we are also supporting 20 program graduates studying in university of in intensive English language courses. 

Where are They Now? Pathway to Change Graduates

Blanca joined the Pathway Program at the age of 6 and now, at 21, is studying Industrial Engineering as a student at the University of Central America.

What inspired you to study industrial engineering?
‘It was our math tutor at the Children’s Center, Juan Avendaño, who inspired me. He gave us all a talk about all the different careers you could study in university, and I became very interested. I did some research on my own and decided this was for me. ‘

Besides tutoring with Profé Juan, what are some other favorite memories of being in the Pathway to Change Program?
One of my favorite memories is when we used to play volleyball or soccer after school at the Center. It was so much fun. I also loved that we were always encouraged to read and that we could borrow whatever books we wanted from the Center. My BEST memory is our senior year trip to El Chocoyero Nature Reserve that [Pathway to Change] organized for all the graduates that year. It was an unforgettable adventure and so beautiful there. 

In 2015, you traveled to the United States to speak at the Legacy Breakfast in Louisville, KY. What do you remember most about that trip?

‘My trip to the United States was one of the best experiences of my life. I was invited to go and make a speech at the Legacy Breakfast. Among my memories are being at Assumption High School in Louisville, where I got to go to class and spend time with girls my age. But above all, meeting my sponsor Tom, in Louisville, was the best thing that happened to me on that visit.’

What have you enjoyed most about being in university? When you graduate, what do you think you will do?

What I’ve liked most about being in university is that little by little, I have become more creative, and I have learned how to organize myself better and make new friends. If all goes well, I will graduate in 2023. After graduation, I would like to work at Merconica Nicaragua, which is a distributor of cleaning products, personal care items and food. At the same time, I would like to start my own business, a small store in my parents’ home.’

If you could give advice to your 10 year old self, what would it be?

‘I would tell myself not to give up, no matter how hard or complicated the situation may seem, and to fight for what I really want. Because, as I learned from Mr. Ed [Dunsworth], who made every kid say this every time we met him at the Children’s Center, “I am intelligent, I am capable, I am going to get ahead, and I am going to be successful in my life.” 


Nayelhi graduated from the Pathway to Change program in 2014 and is now loving her job as a 5th grade teacher assistant at the Nicaragua Christian Academy (NCA). NCA is an internationally recognized private American Christian school, in Managua, where speaking English is required. In her own words, here are her thoughts on participating in the Pathway to Change program. 

What are some of your favorite memories of being in the program?

‘I have a lot of memories from when I was a kid about the special classes we had at P2P (Pathway to Progress) at the end of the summer. I always learned something new, like cooking, carpentry, art, or playing sports, but cooking was the one I loved the most. I remember the delicious cookies we used to bake (the carrot cookies were my favorite.) Now that I am an adult, I would like to take some baking classes, so I can bake some yummy cookies for my future children.’

What inspired you to become a teacher?

‘Something that inspired me to be a teacher is the need I see in my country to have better professionals, people who really care about the future, and want to make things better every day.’ 

In 2013, you traveled to Canada to speak at P2P’s Breakfast of Hope in Halifax. What do you remember about that trip?

‘It has been 8 years and I still remember every little detail about my trip to Canada. I remember how hard I worked, so my speech could be perfect and understandable. I remember I had a sore throat two days before my speech because I was super nervous. I remember how sweet every person was with me. Actually, I still have some of the presents I got from some of them, and they remind me how happy and blessed I was during that trip.’ 

You have been working at NCA now for 2 years. What do you like most about working at NCA?

‘Being part of the NCA community has been one of the most beautiful blessings God has given to me. I like that I feel loved and valuable there. I like how we all work together and try our best to teach the students how important they are for God, for society, and for us. I like that they care about children who need special support to learn.’

Has learned English helped you?

‘Learning English as a second language has helped me a lot. I can’t imagine my life without this great opportunity P2P gave me. English has opened many doors. I would not have a job I have today and the opportunity to know so many people from other countries if I couldn’t speak English.’

Were you afraid of losing your job during the pandemic?

‘During the pandemic I was afraid that many people could get fired (including me), but I insist, if we have God, we have everything. During the quarantine everybody had to stay at home, even the gardeners, the cleaning ladies, and were all were still paid even though we could not go in person.’ 

If you could give advice to your 10-year old self, what would it be?

‘If I could give advice to my 10-year old self, it would be “never give up”. I think it’s really important to be diligent in all you do. Even if things are hard to get, never give up hope.’


Kerstin is a 3rd year student at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) studying Medicine and General Surgery. In her own words, here are her thoughts on participating in the Pathway to Change program. 

What are some of your favorite memories of being in the Pathway to Change program?

Some of my favorite memories are when we had camps on school holidays and baked cookies & cakes, while we where at different activities with all the kids. We had so much fun! I miss it a lot, even the carpentry courses, where I learned to make a bench and years later a table, I still have both. One of my favorite memories was my trip to Canada to speak at the Pathway to Progress breakfast, representing the program. I was honored to share with others the program provides comprehensive education and training for students like me. 

What inspired you to study medicine?

Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. I remember playing with my cousin when we went to the doctor’s office and even ‘hospitalized’ her with my times. As time went by the death of a friend from Leukemia was something that impacted me a lot and encouraged me to continue with my dream. 

What do you like most about going to school?

I’m learning everyday, not only from doctors but from my colleagues and the patients we come to treat. It motivates me a lot to know that I am getting closer to fulfilling my dream and also the experiences that I carry with me everyday, not only scientific growth, but also human quality. I cannot deny that I am excited to see myself in my gabacha – white lab coat – but mainly when the patients are grateful for our attention. 

I am currently in my 3rd of year of studying of 8 years. I know there is a long way to go, but it is worth it and I know I will do my best, perseverance and over everything, love on the run. When I graduate I will be opting for a pediatric specialty and late take on a subspecialty. 

If you could give advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?

To never get de-railed by what other people say, that you always have to keep going no matter how difficult the circumstances are, because in the end, the reward is greater. That insecure little girl will become a great professional, proud of what she does, grateful for all the opportunities that God gave her in her life. Above all, for the unconditional support of her mother and Hand in Hand Ministries. 


Francisco is a student at the University of Central America (UCA) studying journalism and communication. Francisco has never given up. He dropped out of school after the 6th grade. Ed Dunsworth, Director of the Nicaragua program met Francisco when he was 14 years old. He was a kid with nothing to do and nowhere to go. He told Ed he wanted to go back to school, after much persistence, he returned to school in 2012, entering the 7th grade at the age of 16. Here are some thoughts Francisco shared with us. 

What are some of your favorite memories of being in the Pathway to Change program?

I have fond memories. From the beginning I felt the warmth and love in each of those who are part of Hand in Hand Ministries. I feel that we are a family, they (facilitators of Hand in Hand) were concerned about my health, how I was emotionally, if I did something wrong they told me that every day was a new beginning and I could make it right. 

What inspired you to study journalism and communication?

It has been my dream since I was a little kid. I saw journalists and communicators of different media and, as a child, one always wants to be something, a firefighter, a policeman, etc. I said I wanted to work on TV, radio or the press. I am inspired by commitment to the truth, to generate positive change as a society, to share ideas with people. Through communication and journalism, I can help generate positive changes in society.

What do you like best about going to University?

UCA has the prestige of being recognized as a university for training quality professionals. The accompaniment and commitment of the teachers to us, as students, is one of the things I appreciate so much. The teachers give more than they should and we know they are always there and willing to help us. Having teachers of that quality is a blessing. 

When do you graduate and what are your plans after graduation?

I stated my classes in June 2019 and God willing, I will finish in mid-2023. I would like to work in radio and also participate in social projects. I have a goal to start English classes and to start volunteering. As a professional, I would like to have a voice on my show ¡sí se puede! (Yes, You Can!) The program would feature young people to share their testimonies of overcoming hardship and how they have coped with difficult situations that arise in life. I see this as a personal way to serve and show young people the love and recognition that Hand in Hand has always shown me.

If you could give advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?

This question is emotional. I never dreamed I could do and as a child, I never dreamed of the blessing of having the support of Hand in Hand Ministries. 

I would say, “Don’t be afraid, keep going, trust God, you are capable of things you never knew you could do. You will see that there are people who will support you and you will get ahead. Today you are sad, but tomorrow you will be happy. 

The Francisco of 10+ years ago was so in need of love, God’s love above all. Today I recognize that without God’s love I would not have reached where I am today. I recognize that the unconditional support of Hand in Hand was part of that great love. I am grateful to Him and Hand in Hand. 


Adriana is a student at the University of Science & Technology in Costa Rica studying Industrial Engineering. Adriana has been waiting for classes to resume so we caught up with her with some questions about her Pathway to Change experience. 

What are some of your favorite memories of being in the Pathway to Change Program?
I have good memories. Meeting new people and getting along with them, I would always be learning and making the best out of the time we had together. English class with the passion and dedication teacher Barbara had, were moments I will never forget. Hosting immersion trip volunteer guests into our family home.  In 2015, I had the opportunity to speak at the Legacy Luncheon in Louisville, Kentucky (see Adriana’s speech) I had the opportunity to meet an incredible family that greeted me with so much love and just made it a beautiful experience.

What inspired you to study industrial engineering?
The fact that industrial engineering is such a diverse degree that you can apply to many fields. On the other hand, the fact of being able to lead, really inspired me. 

What have you enjoyed most about being in University?
Everything, absolutely everything. Having met new people with different nationalities, learning from each other has been immensely satisfactory. The University within its competencies has to train leaders in all possible aspects, and I try to put that to use in my group work, in my life, etc. I enjoy the evaluation methodology, it is zero exams and 100% projects.

When will you graduate and what do you think you will do after graduation?
I finish school in April 2021, but will graduate in September 2021. I will be working full-time and pursuing another scholarship to continue my studying.

How has learning English helped you?
A lot, almost all of the books I use for school are in English. Usually companies require it when you apply for a job. 

If you could give advice to your 10 year old self, what would it be?
I would tell her not to give up, to not stop until she gets it. That economic position does not matter; it does not define who you are or where you can go. Always set your eyes further than where you think you can go.


Francis, 17, a recent high school graduate is currently studying Optometry at UNAN (National Autonomus University of Nicaragua) where she is currently on hold until in-person classes resume. Francis has been training during this time and is now a volunteer firefighter. We have asked her some questions about her Pathway to Change experience. 

What are some of your favorites memories of being in the Pathway to Change program? 
There are many beautiful memories. I really like receiving math tutorials because it clarified my doubts and got good grades. Another favorite was when I was congratulated on my academic excellence and also the times that I shared with my friends in the ministry activities.

How did you choose to study Optometry?
My biggest dream is to study medicine and be a brilliant doctor. But in college there were no spots left to study medicine, so I decided to study Optometry for one year with the hope and faith in God that I could add to my career in a years time and fulfill my dream. 

What inspired you to become a volunteer firefighter at 16 years old? What is the best part?
I was motivated by the profession of serving other people. Also children look at you like a hero and on several occasions it really is you. I’m always ready for an emergency call and enjoy seeing the joy on people’s faces when you answer the call and I learn new things every day. 

If you could give advice to your 8 year old self, what would it be?
Always keep moving forward, don’t stop. Do your best and never say ‘I can’t,’ study as much as you can and above always, trust God. 

Pathway to Progress (Canada)

Pathway to Progress Nicaragua is a Canadian charity that is dedicated to supporting an innovative program called Pathway to Change in Managua, Nicaragua.  This program provides children from the neediest families with the opportunity for quality education in order to break the cycle of poverty. Money raised in Canada is carefully used to cover the costs of scholarships and education expenses for students enrolled in this program.

Get Involved

“This educational support by Hand in Hand Ministries is probably one of the best investments in the future of the country and its health care.” Dr. Goetz Kloecker, Medical Missions Volunteer

“I want to thank you because even though my grades were never the best you always continued supporting me. It has meant a lot to me to be part of [this program] Thanks to this beautiful group of people, I have had a lot of unforgettable experiences and I have met a lot of good people who now have great importance in my life.” Pathway Student, Carlos Andres, from a letter at high school graduation

“”Having finally seen the work you [Ed & Barbara Dunsworth] have both dedicated your lives to at first-hand – I can say without reservation that it’s clear that it’s working and that you are making a positive difference in the lives of many people. Apart from all the love that is evident in what you do, I was impressed by the intelligence and disciplined focus of your mission.” Chris Murphy, volunteer and student sponsor, Halifax N.S.

“Adriana has very beautiful memories of her childhood [in the Pathway program] where you were with her, guiding her, teaching her and giving love to [her] every moment, and she, like a sponge, absorbing everything you gave her….We thank God that we have been touched by very good people and that we have been able to move ahead.” Adriana is now studying Industrial Engineering in Costa Rica. Her mom continues, “Her knowledge of English has opened the door to employment in a company related to her studies where she is working part-time while finishing her degree.” Dona Elisa, mother of Pathway student, Adriana Ramirez, who was with us from age 6 through high school graduation in 2017.