History

Keith and Karen Jaspers of Springfield, Missouri founded Rainbow Network in 1995 out of a belief that people who are able to respond to the needs of the world’s poorest people have an obligation to do so.

Keith drew from experience while building the framework of Rainbow, combining the business knowledge he built as a hotel owner with what he learned about international non-profit operations as one of the earliest board members of Habitat for Humanity.

Their vision has helped Rainbow Network to establish a full-time presence in seven regions in rural Nicaragua, delivering sustainable programs in healthcare, education, economic development, and housing.

This holistic model, combined with the extraordinary dedication of the Nicaraguan people and the generosity of donors, has allowed the work of Rainbow Network to expand from the original 4 communities to 113 today.

The Issues Rural Nicaragua Faces:

Cycles of poverty deeply affect many people in Nicaragua. Unavailability of credit, lack of infrastructure, inflation, unemployment, and the nature of seasonal agricultural labor make Nicaragua one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. As with all poverty, the most immediate threat is malnutrition, affecting 1 in 4 people nationally and 40% of all rural residents.

Lack of healthcare and sanitation dramatically reduce quality and length of life. While only 2% of rural Nicaraguans have access to sewer/septic services, none of the remote villages we serve have such access. With only 18% of all people having clean water, tropical parasites are a constant problem, as are respiratory problems due to volcanic activity and indoor cook fires.

Natural disasters are common in Nicaragua; hurricanes and tropical storms trigger flooding and mudslides, paying a toll on infrastructure and human suffering. There are a staggering 8 active volcanoes in the areas we serve, some of them streaming a constant flow of toxic gases. Earthquakes are commonplace too. Aftershocks can continue for weeks after a major quake.

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