MWM supports a project for abused women in Chile

Last year MWM gave a grant of £1250 to the Centro de Atención Familiar in Alto Hospicio, Chile. The centre runs a project to help women who are the victims of domestic abuse, by means of a community network and self help groups. Money was needed to bridge a gap between the end of November 2006 and the renewal of a government grant the following April. In the end the government money was not received until May so the MWM grant enabled the work to continue without a break. Without this support it would not have been possible to retain the psychologist and social worker or to give ongoing support to those women who were receiving help. Chris Esdaile, Mission Partner in Alto Hospicio says, ‘We stretched the MWM grant out as far as we could and managed to continue without a period of closure – thanks to the MWM grant!’

Chris Esdaile explains the main aims of the project: –

  • to maintain a network of organisations having regular contact with the women who had experienced domestic violence, to be organised and supported by the leaders of these organisations
  • to run workshops and to establish self-help groups, empowering women, in order that they can spread information and knowledge about domestic abuse into the community
  • to provide individual advice and assistance for women suffering domestic abuse.

‘In 2006, we set up a network of 44 organisations in Alto Hospicio having contact with women suffering domestic abuse and hold regular meetings. We use these meetings to try to sensitise people to the issues and to disseminate information. We also held three rolling cycles of ‘welcome’ workshops, led by different members of our professional staff, for women who have been victims of domestic violence. We also held our first workshops aimed at developing self-esteem, led by our psychologist. In 2006, we also helped around 100 women on an individual basis, compared with around 40 in 2005.

‘Alto Hospicio started as a squatter settlement in the 1980s and only in 2004 was it recognised as a community in its own right, now with a population of around 80,000. The community is characterised by various social problems, including the highest statistics in this part of Chile for domestic violence, child abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism, and youth crime. There is also a scarcity of resources within the community to resolve conflicts in an appropriate way.

‘We work with people and families in Alto Hospicio, largely those who are living in poverty, offering them psychological, social, legal and spiritual support and we have developed a particular expertise and reputation in the field of domestic violence. The majority of those who come are women, often either single parents or at least in charge of the home, with an average of 2-4 small children.

‘CAF has two small furnished offices next to the Methodist Church in Alto Hospicio. It is an institution of the Methodist Church in Chile. We work from a Christian standpoint, though CAF is open to all. We aim to be a place of welcome and of hope and our service is provided free to our users.’



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