Dear Global Fund staff,
I write to you today concerned and devastated over the situation we are living through on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua--home to the Center for Indigenous Peoples Autonomy and Development, Casa Museo Miss Judith and the Wangky Tangni Women’s Center. Projects that we have spend over a decade building from zero. ALL are now in serious jeopardy.
The city of Puerto Cabezas/Bilwi is home to around 40,000 people, and 80 percent of them have been effected. Most of the houses have lost their roofs which were made primarily from zinc; the walls are mostly built of pine wood (one layer) and a lot of them have crumbled; the rain continues to fall-it has been more than 30 hours. The women, children, the elderly and my family are all experiencing the lashes of Felix throughout Bilwi.
Last night the main regional hospital was evacuated to a public school shortly before both of its buildings collapsed; and most of the 60 designated “shelters” established by the regional and central government authorities collapsed as well, leaving those seeking shelter with nowhere to go. It is critical to note that people had no warning system and that the route of the hurricane was kept undefined until the last hours when night had fallen upon us. This did not allow for most people living in the coastal communities to move fast enough out of the danger zones. In Sandy Bay, a community of more than 1000 houses, only four were left standing, and the personal stories are heart breaking to hear. Children are traumatized and the elderly too. I see the eyes of my father looking deep inside his heart as he sits there crying and mourning the losses of decades of hard work.
As I made my first visit through the town I was able to once again see the impact of environmental degradation and climate change and its direct impact on the lives of women and families. We have so much work to do in order to be prepared and in order to build awareness amongst our leadership of the importance of establishing an early warning system. Today, I write with deep sadness over the losses and sorrow and over the pitiful lack of recognition of the impact of environmental disasters in our lives. But we need to be able to continue to work and to maintain our spirit, our hope, and our steadfastness knowing that our people are worthy of a secure life today and in the future. We set out to realize our dream a few decades ago - the transformation of our communities. And we worked every single day with the support of friends like you from all over the world.
In the United States, MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization, is supporting our efforts. At this moment we need a coordinated effort that will be directed from their offices. They will do all the record keeping for us as we must devote ourselves to rebuilding.
Please let me know if you can help us at this moment. We are putting together a packet of information and will be issuing updates so you can know how we are doing. I hope I can count on you today as I have in the past. Know that I am grateful for your warm wishes and your past support. I thank you for thinking of us. Please be as generous as you can. The people of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua need you today.
Once again, I write to appeal to you and your network of partners, donors and friends to support the rebuilding of our dream, the rebuilding of our communities. Below is the contact information for MADRE. Support can be sent by mail, phone, or online. You can use a credit card or send a check.
Please send donations to:
Vivian Stromberg, Exec. Dir.
121 West 27th Street #301
New York, NY 10001
Myrna Cunningham is member of the Global Fund for Women's Board of Directors