Back in August, an energetic Expat, with fiery red hair, came into our office to talk to one of our sales agents about paying taxes on her property. In the course of the conversation, I overheard her mention a defunct women’s center, in town, that she was trying to get up and running again. I quickly introduced myself to Bonnie and asked that she keep me up to date on the center and let me know how I could become involved. Having previously worked in a women’s shelter for pregnant and parenting teens, back in Boston, I was drawn to this cause. Fast forward 4 months and I am deep in the thick of it, along with Bonnie, two other Expats (Lee and Rachel), and 3 local Nicaraguan women: Doña Mayra (the director of the center), Thelma, and Argelia.
Since our first meeting on November 5, 2008, we have exchanged countless emails, held a fundraiser, opened a bank account for the organization, created an informational blog about the center, and established our mission, goals, and planned services. This past Saturday, we also had an information table at a local community event, in the park and sold over $100 in raffle tickets. Most exciting is the prospect of a one-day free medical clinic that we might be able to host toward the end of the month.
Already, this experience has proven to be incredibly fulfilling. I look forward to meetings when we share the hopes we have for the center and discuss the areas in need of improvement. I truly enjoy working with local women, working on my Spanish with them, and learning the cultural nuances of a Nicaraguan-Ex-pat steering committee. The people on this board both inspire me and challenge me to re-think many of my own preconceived ideas.
In the coming months, we hope to paint the exterior of the women’s center, continue English classes with a formal schedule, begin a cooperative daycare so that the women can work, and lead courses in hospitality services. If you find yourself reading this and wanting to get involved, either thru hands-on work or a donation, please feel free to contact me via this blog. For more information, check out our Casa de la Mujer blog.