These past few days at Centro de Mujeres Ixchen have been so enriching that I don’t even know where to start. The community of women who work in the organization are strong, independent, very sweet, amiable, and guided with a definitive sense of purpose in their work. The mission and services of the center are highly known in the city and beyond as I have found through a variety of interactions ranging from family to strangers who recognize that I’m not a native.
Pasantia is a new vocab word that I learned from Tania, the human resources coordinator of the organization who I have been in contact with since early December. From what I deduced as she eagerly led me through their administrative building and later on clinic and legal offices pasantia means something along the lines of internship. In each introduction I was greeted warmly with a light kiss on the cheek as is the custom here in Nicaragua when saying hello to family or friends. The two centers I have visited of the nine that the organization has are painted pink and purple with female silhouettes decorating the walls and radiating a certain sense of comfort and safety in an otherwise uncertain city.
Because I have a short 6 week visit I decided along with Tania to focus my attention on the development of a project that will measure the effectiveness of the services offered as well as a more nuanced research of the results of the program Alianza. My first few days were occupied with office work generating indicators of success, surveys to measure the indicators, and interview questions for a more in-depth understanding. Today I was finally able to interact with the usuarias (usuarias is the name given by the centro to the women who benefit from the services) and start my research. Throughout the day I saw how diverse the group of women who benefited from the center were; they varied in age, socioeconomic status, frequency of visits, and the service they were inquiring among other things. As I sat at the reception desk asking usuarias to fill out the survey women who both worked for Ixchen or were coming in for a service asked about my stay in Managua and shared with me some of their experiences and pastimes. The most striking was a fourteen year old girl who came in for prenatal care from a town on the outskirts of the city carrying herself with the self-assurance of an adult. Her curiosity and ease sprouted for me the thought that the richness of the center lies in the constant sharing of stories.