Chavalos is a term used to refer to the children marred by drug addiction and crime who roam the streets of Granada, the oldest city in Nicaragua. Despite picturesque architecture, beautiful coastal landscapes, and incredible beaches, Nicaragua is the second poorest country in central America. On top of that, Granada is statistically the poorest city in Central Americas, with an 80% unemployment rate with the average citizen surviving on an income of just one dollar a day. Focusing on the most vulnerable citizens, it’s children, Cafe Chavalos: Overcoming the Streets reveals the hopelessness of the children living in this environment, many of whom have become addicted to glue sniffing, suffer abuse and are threatened by gang violence.
Cafe Chavalos is a local program that was set up to help bring hope and meaning to these children’s lives. The children are rehabilitated through the multidisciplinary center that includes a culinary school, restaurant and rehab center. The film follows several of the kids as they attempt to bring their lives together, but the drama shifts partially through the film as the cafe is threatened with closure. The stability offered by the Cafe counter-balanced the struggles of their daily lives. Not only did it offer them direction, skills and the opportunity to overcome addiction, but offered them hope for a better tomorrow. One of the biggest struggles of the community is suicide, nearly all the children have a close family member take their own life, Cafe Chavalos attempts to offer them the support to help them see value in their lives. As Cafe Chavalos is threatened as it suffers it’s integral financial blows and personnel problems, the question becomes whether or not the children will be able to endure without the cafe. The film asks interesting questions about the involvement of third party non-profits in struggling nations, in particular what happens what happens when that organization has to pack up and go away. Where does it leave the people it helped who do not have the privilege of packing up and leaving?