Five hours outside of Managua and just south of the stunning Cerro Munsún Natural Reserve sits the historically troubled town of Rio Blanco. Our partners at the Oficina de la Mujer (Office for Women) have their hands full. When leaders of other women’s rights organizations in Nicaragua hear, “Rio Blanco,” they always seem to breathe deeply before talking about what a difficult setting it is for domestic violence work. They’ll typically point out that, “Our compañeras (companions) there are very courageous.” In fact the Rio Blanco advocates have received a few death threats for their accompaniment of battered women seeking justice.
The survivors come from the city as well as surrounding rural communities. They often cross rivers, walk miles, hop on crowded busses, and carry their babies for 5 to 7 hours in order to get to the Oficina to seek assistance. If the domestic violence program in Rio Blanco was to close someday, the closest chance for these women would be Matagalpa, meaning some of them would have to travel more than a day to seek help.
The members of the Oficina staff are activists, committed to justice. So when budgetary constraints arise, they often sacrifice their own salaries first. Indeed, for the past three months, the coordinator of the program, the legal counselor, and the office watchman have all forgone salaries in order to keep providing essential services; now they’re asking for our help.
Any gift you send today, large or small, will make a difference in the lives of survivors and families throughout Rio Blanco. Your investment in the livelihoods of the Oficina staff and the continuation of their work will save lives – and help build justice, peace and renewal.