12 nov. 2009

Building Community Alliance Brings Support for Children

One of Hogar’s most recent and exciting initiatives has been launching a new Agency Alliance in the city of Camoapa. The local government is, by law, required to provide 1 percent of the city budget to the local children and to the programs that support them. However, since May 1998 when this law was first created, the Comision de la Ninez y la Adolescencia (Commission for Children and Adolescence) has not seen any of that money. Nor has the Comision been functioning in any practical capacity. Feeling frustrated with disorganization and a lack of services provided to the people of Camoapa, we decided to take matters into our own local hands.
To start building capacity Hogar Luceros del Amanecer initiated a town wide meeting and invited all local organizations that work with children, adolescents and/or adults. Local representatives from the following organizations came to the meeting:

  • Los Pipitos, a national non-governmental agency of the families of handicapped children to increase their involvement and abilities within their communities.
  • Programa Amor, a subsidiary program of the Nicaraguan Governmental Agency, El Ministerio de la Familia, that works for children’s rights and protection.
  • Centro de Desarollo Infantil (CDI), a strictly local organization that provides daycare, early education schooling and nutrition to infants and children up to the age of 6 whose families are of limited resources.
  • Casa de la Mujer, a local chapter of a national program for women that provides training and social services, and especially assistance to those who have been victims of domestic violence.

To begin, all organizations provided brief presentations and raised individual issues of concern. One of the most salient matters raised was the lack of representation from other organizations that were invited, including the Mayor’s office. After some deliberation it was decided that there was a great need to make a personal visit to the Mayor in order to somehow demand local government support. We decided to write a letter and have all representatives sign it. We were consequently invited to meet with the Mayor, the Vice-Mayor and all local representatives in a large scale, public discussion that called the attention of all local news media. On our end, we invited all people in town interested in talking about children’s issues and children’s rights. About 40 people showed up to talk and offer support, and out of it, the Comision was reinstated. Though there is still a good amount of work to be done in order to maintain support, we have nonetheless gained momentum and garnered ideas for moving forward.

The Alliance has met on several occasions. Struggling, at times, to find a way to build on community strength, we have nevertheless come up with a list of activities that we believe will support the city and the most vulnerable children and families who live here. Some of these activities include the development of a girl’s softball league (never before seen in Camoapa,) organizing a visit (with the local radio and TV news channels) to a local barrio that is in desperate need of sanitation services, and planning free transportation one day a month for the elders of Camoapa to visit the local health center. We will continue to work for children’s rights and ongoing services to the vulnerable.