Photo of the Day

Here is a sample of some of the scholarship students we have been interviewing to make profiles to send to donors through Project Education. The majority of our sponsors are from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Cinncinati, OH, but anyone can go the Friends of Batahola website to sponsor a scholarship student. This year our donors are supporting 206 scholarship students to pay for expenses to go to school or take courses here at the Center. Thanks to all of our sponsors out there, have a great Monday!

Kelsey

Song of the Day

“Los caminos de la vida                     “The paths of life

no son lo que esperaba                      are not what I expected,

no son lo que yo pensaba                   they are not what I thought

no son lo que imaginaba”                    they are not what I imagined”

 

Can’t get this song out of our heads today, hope you enjoy!

-Kelsey & Erika

A Reflection on Community

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On Sunday the Center’s Arts Promotion program teamed up with the Violence Prevention program to put on a cultural activity in a park just 2 blocks from the Center. The activity was in honor of the 31st anniversary of the Center as well as International Women’s Day. It included performances by the orchestra, choir, dance groups and the violence prevention promoters as well as a mural painted by the a group of painting students and other community members.

With the new strategic plan in process here at the Center, we have been reflecting on our history and roots. The Center was initially created by and for the community; with the founders going door to door and investigating the needs of families in the neighborhood.  With a fear of becoming segregated as the Center community and the Batahola Norte community, there have been strategies to reach out to our neighbors.

I challenge us to think about how well we know those living in close proximity to us. Do we as organizations, churches, families truly reach out to meet the needs and join in the joys and struggles of our neighbors? What does it mean to be a neighbor to those physically close but economically, ideologically or politically distant?

As Father Rafael has commented often in the Center’s mass service, how do we work to cross the borders that divide us? How can we, from all religions, races, genders, nationalities, social economic statuses and sexual orientations join together despite our differences and work towards a common goal of justice and equality?

As you may have noticed, the word painted on the mural is equity not equality. In a recent teacher’s workshop, I learned the difference between these two words. It was explained with this story:

There are three people, one who is tall, one who is medium height and one who is short. They are all trying to see a mural but there is an obstacle in front of them that doesn’t allow them all to see. Equality is giving each of them one block to step on, even though this leaves the shortest person unable to see and the tallest person seeing well above the obstacle. Equity is giving the tallest person nothing, the medium person one block and the shortest person two blocks so that all are able to see the mural. Equality is what we hope to reach one day, but until we get there we have to work on equity–giving to each person according to their necessity so none of us are prevented from seeing the beauty that lies beyond the obstacle.

Kelsey

An afternoon of Cake decorating!

I visited the Cake Decorating class to interview a student, and found Danixa working away on the flowers for her cake. She is hoping to eventually be able to support herself by making and decorating cakes and save up to go to the University!

 

-Erika C.

Photo of the Day

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Nearly every afternoon we have the pleasure of smelling the delicious concoctions coming from the cooking class right on the other side of our office wall. Today’s recipes include pizza, breaded chicken and thai glazed meatballs. The proper spanish phrase is “huele rico!” which is equivalent to smells delightful!

Kelsey

Violence Prevention Promoters Start the Year off Strong through their own Experiences

When the violence prevention program coordinator, Ivania, invited me to start attending meetings and events of the program’s youth team, I jumped at the chance to tag along!

The group of 20 young people had an opening retreat a few weeks ago, where they focused on getting to know each other, the history of the group’s activities, and discussed different types of violence. The group has already created and performed a short skit for Women’s day discussing gender roles, and they performed it at the Center as well as a at a local elementary school.

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Besides having a focus on theatre that aims at analyzing situations of domestic violence, the Promoters will be reaching out to the community to see what their needs are for awareness. They will learn how to facilitate workshops on violence and human rights for community members as well as younger youth who participate in activities here at the Center.

After going through some announcements, Ivania asked the youth to share about a time where they had seen a situation of violence in their lives. The room got eerily silent for a moment as they looked back through their memories, until the first promoter spoke up. He shared about his brother and sister arguing one night, until it got physical. His mother ended up asking the son to leave the house, and young man sharing didn’t go to school the next day, because he had been up listening to them until 4am. We went around the room as they continued to share, and the next young man shared about witnessing his father abuse his mother for 17 years before they separated. A young woman talked about falling in love and changing herself for her partner, for example dressing more feminine and learning to cook, and four years later found herself stuck in an abusive relationship. Someone asked how she got out of it, and she answered with, “Well first off, I met Ivania.” I shared about an experience that I had about a friend and her abusive partner, and after this time of sharing Ivania brought the young people’s attention back to their motivation for wanting to be a part of this group.

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It’s personal; People’s reasons for wanting to create change in their neighborhoods. They see and hear violence not only on the news, on their streets and through the thin walls to their neighbor’s houses, but they have touched it and seen it in their very own homes. The shyest young man in the group to the most talkative and seemingly confident young woman had all seen things in their life that many could never imagine witnessing, BUT, that’s how life is. And they have found a way to channel their experience into a movement for good.

I am learning that one of the greatest parts of the Center is that you don’t just come to take a class and then leave. Groups like the Violence Prevention Promoters offer youth an opportunity to keep coming back and to be a part of a community program that is not only educational, but also SUSTAINABLE. Sustainable in the way that they are learning and teaching about empowerment; and that is something that cannot be undone.

 

-Erika C.

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A Feminist’s take on Femicide

The newest femicide statistics put out by a local network of women shows that between January and February this year there have already been 18 femicides compared to 11 last year in the same time period. As seen from the map, a higher percentage of femicides occur in the rural atlantic side of the country where ironically the population is significantly smaller but there is limited access to education and resources.

“No a la impunidad”  (“No to the impunity”) A phrase claiming the position of many women’s rights groups here in Nicaragua; that we can’t let this injustice go unpunished.

Despite the many gains women have made in Nicaragua, there is still a long way to go in the struggle for women’s rights and gender equality. We must remember that femicide is only evidence of the most extreme form of violence against women. Gender-based violence is manifested not only physically, but also psychologically, economically, spiritually and more. We’ve become to understand the severity of these levels of violence on a deeper level through the personal stories of friends, neighbors and coworkers here who have been gracious enough to share with us the violence they’ve experienced.

One thing I’ve learned since working here at the Center is that every single person has lived through violence in some form or another, and sadly here that violence is manifested in much more visible ways than in the U.S. and other more developed countries. Ultimately this violence is transmitted through the way a society is educated in the home, in school and in the streets. Even though it will be a long and slow process of uneducating and reeducating, I see a lot of hope in Nicaragua’s future. Especially working in a place like the Center, where every day you can see the participation of all ages and genders working together towards holistic education.

Kelsey

Resources:

http://benwitte.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/nicaraguas-femicide-law-slow-to-produce-results/

http://www.reddemujerescontralaviolencia.org.ni/

International Women’s Day

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To celebrate International Women’s Day I wanted to post pictures of some wonderful women involved in the Center who were part of  today’s cultural event to celebrate “Dia de la Mujer.” I hope that no matter our sex or gender, we can remember all of the successes women have achieved as well as the struggles we have yet to overcome, not just in the U.S. or Nicaragua, but all over the world. Today we break down the boarders and stand together in solidarity.

Kelsey