MANAGUA – It’s already tough enough to raise funding for an organization made up entirely of women. But the task becomes exponentially harder if the women are Afro-Caribbean, prostitutes, lesbians or indigenous.
It’s these non-profit organizations that stray from the traditional that the Central American Women’s Fund aims to help, says Claudia Samcam, the fund’s development officer.
“We want to support groups, not individual projects,” she said. “So often in Nicaragua, the problem is that groups receive funding for one specific project and when the project is complete, the funding dries up and the group can’t survive. It disintegrates without funding for its projects.”
To that end, the fund continues to sponsor the original 23 groups it supported when it began in 2003, distributing a total of $13,000 that year. This year the list had grown to 56 groups and more than $300,000 in grants.
Samcam hopes to add an additional 25 groups for the next fiscal year.
The fund’s principal activity is collecting donations and then distributing the money to groups of young women in Central America. Currently, 56 groups receive annual grants of $2,000 to $5,000.
Groups sponsored by the fund must promote health and reproductive sexual rights, strengthen leadership opportunities for women, or work on issues such as labor rights in maquiladoras or the sex trade “Implicit in all of this is the prevention of violence against women,” Samcam said, adding that groups must be led by women in order to receive funding.
Besides granting money to individual groups, the fund facilitates exchange programs and workshops on themes such as radio or sex-workers’ rights. This way, members of various groups – from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua – can discuss strategies and share success stories.
The fund also plans to work more in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) in these months of need following Hurricane Felix.
“We’re not the Red Cross,” Samcam said. “But through our strong, immediate response program, we want to help with the emotional recovery of the women from the RAAN after their immediate physical and housing needs have been met by other organizations. “They’re the ones who have been most victimized,” she added. “And the incidents of violence only increase after situations like hurricanes.”
The fund’s annual fundraising campaign begins Nov. 25. Donations come primarily from foreign organization such as the American Jewish World Service, OXFAM Family and the Ford Foundation. Last year, about 45 people, including 40 foreigners, made individual contributions.
“We don’t seek government funds,” Samcam said. “There are so many organizations out there fighting for such limited government resources. Nicaragua is a poor country. We don’t want to contribute to that.”
To learn more about the Central American Women’s Fund or to make a donation, visit www.fcmujeres.org, or call (505) 254-4981. The fund is a registered 501c3 in the United States, so donations are taxdeductible.