The first few days in Siuna have been incredibly exciting and informative. Today and yesterday we visited the site where the shelter is going to be, and met several members of the Commission for Women, Children, Adolescents, and the Disabled. We learned that the Commission is made up of 18 organizations including NGOs, government organizations, and universities, and all of them are involved with the shelter project.
Reina Flores, the president of the Commission and a human rights activist ever since the Sandinista Revolution, showed us the shelter site. It’s going to be built over an existing building, and will house twelve women initially. Reina showed us where the rooms are going to be, a meeting place, workshop rooms, laundry rooms, a kitchen, and two bathrooms. On Thursday, when we return from visiting the existing women’s shelter in Puerto Cabezas, we will be able to start helping to build the security gate around the outside.
Reina continually described the construction of the shelter as un sueño realizado – a dream come true. She sees 10-15 women a day who come to her with reports of domestic violence seeking her help with their case, so she knows the huge scope of the problem, and she’s been hoping for the resources to do something about it for a long time. Salud Sin Limites and the Commission are starting the shelter this week with the money GlobeMed sent – our money will mostly go to building the security gate, redoing the roof which leaks, and buying materials such as beds for the women. In July they have been promised government support of USD $40,000 to finish the shelter and hope to open it up to women by the end of this year. Reina said that GlobeMed at Duke’s contribution to the shelter was essential in convincing the government that the project was worth supporting. This is amazing – our cupcake-selling and picture-taking and constant Facebook posting about Kaplan courses has actually paid off in such a huge way.
I wish I could be here to see the shelter completed, and am thinking about coming back to Siuna after I graduate to see the real difference that GlobeMed has made in the lives of women that suffer such horrific violence. I’m so proud to be part of GlobeMed, and I’m proud to be working with Salud Sin Limites and the Commission. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the initiative of everyone I’ve met here – Juan, his co-worker Shellda, Reina, all the other heads of NGOs that are working with the Commission – to see a problem in their community and organize themselves to fix it.
On Monday, we’ll be going to Puerto Cabezas, the capital of la R.A.A.N, to see the shelter that they have there, get ideas, and meet with development groups from the United Nations. Look out for more news soon!