Students promote training, economic dev’t for domestic violence survivors
One of the factors that influences the cycle of gender violence is the lack of economic resources. Financial dependence and the feeling that without the aggressor it would not be possible to live fully, lead the victim to stay in this cycle.
Aware of this serious reality, the Enactus team of Columbia Central University created, in 2014, the project named: “Listen,” with the goal of empowering women in Puerto Rico and fighting gender violence.
Initially, “Listen” had as its main focus the socio-economic and emotional empowerment of women, using as a basis a model created by the Belgian Commission for the Development of Women and promoted by the United Nations.
The program has empowered more than 25 beneficiaries, impacting the lives of more than 1,500 people from three communities in Puerto Rico.
The model was adjusted to the needs and socio-cultural realities of the Island and applied in a community of Juncos. A year later, with the Networks program of the Puerto Rico Department of the Family, the project was replicated in the neighborhood of Beatriz, in Caguas.
This team moved forward with its goal of replicating “Listen” in a new community, and in 2020 it launched “Listen” in Humacao alongside Casa de la Bondad, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing diverse services to survivors of gender-based violence.
“We started by empowering the participants of their transitional home program, and in this new stage, with the implementation of social distancing measures, we focused our efforts on establishing a virtual presence,” said Christian Rivera, team leader.
“We started the creation of a business development module accessible through our website, which gives our beneficiaries and other partners the opportunity to obtain new knowledge from the comfort of their home and free of charge,” he said.
In this replica of the project, the alliance has been comprehensive, with the support of the health professionals from Casa de la Bondad, the “Listen” beneficiaries obtain various tools that promote balanced emotional development and with the intervention of the Enactus Columbia Central University team, they are provide with access to tools aimed at promoting entrepreneurship in order to give them financial freedom.
“Survivors of gender-based violence can suffer from depression, anxiety and even post-traumatic stress, among other conditions. The ‘Listen’ project brings together the resources and talents to serve this population, who provide emotional support services and Enactus Columbia Central University leads the processes of empowerment and socioeconomic development,” Rivera said.
According to the students, working with this population was a challenge, since they had to educate themselves on the rights that protect them, the protocols and the laws in force in order to achieve an effective integration of the training and development program aimed at self-management and business development.
Recently, Enactus Columbia Central University founded a social company dedicated to providing participants with additional income through new sales channels. The company provides an income to each participant.
“Our short-term goal is to develop a virtual store in which our beneficiaries promote their products. Likewise, we plan to expand our operations towards the network of shelters or centers that work with this population of women survivors of gender violence and promote educational campaigns with success stories and testimonials, which raise awareness to avoid gender violence,” said Rivera, from Enactus Columbia Central University.