The Mayagna Children’s Fund was started in 2004 by journalist and writer Mel McGrath, to bring a group of indigenous Mayagna Indians from the Bosawas reserve in the Northeast of Nicaragua to hospital in León for reconstructive surgery. At that time their community had very little access to medical help. The surgery was needed for cleft palates and hare lips – more common when nutrition is poor – and burns, which are common when all cooking is done over open fires.
In 2007 Kate Saunders and Maggie Barclay visited Nicaragua and met Rigo Sampson, a trained doctor who worked with Mel on that first journey. After discussions with Mel McGrath and Rigo Sampson, Kate and Maggie took over the fund.
Kate and Maggie wanted to continue the original work but access to the north west was so difficult that they started to concentrate their efforts in more urban areas. For two years the Fund, in collaboration with the Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, gave grants to the Los Quinchos organisation to run a centre looking after children who lived with their families on the massive rubbish dump at La Chureca. The centre provided meals, social, educational and medical help, and some skills training. In 2013 the dump at La Chureca was been sealed over and the centre no longer functions there.
Since then the Mayagna Children’s Fund has made support grants to several more organisations in Nicaragua and in 2015 it became registered UK charity 1159821.
Today the Mayagna Childrens’ Fund makes grants to three organisations that take care of street children and children from very disadvantaged families. (Los Quinchos and El Barrilete). It continues to provide help towards basic surgery in remote areas, through a link with Nicaplast, to to support the Mama Licha women’s clinic in Estelí. In the same town it provides a small amount of funds to a mural painting group whose work advertises social and medical information. In 2014 the fund started to fund a group which supports families with children with cancer, (AspanicaSole); Cecamo, a group which supports women suffering from domestic violence; and the Escuela de Comedia et el Mimo in Granada, which feeds street children.