Help Women Escape Abuse in Chile

Casa Betania Livelihood Project
Casa Betania Livelihood Project

 

 

Recently Columban Fr. Daniel Harding wrote to us seeking funds for the Casa Betania Livelihood Project to help abused and battered migrant women in Chile. Below please find his request for assistance.

Casa Betania project

In the parish of St. Columban, we have seven chapel communities and two of these chapel communities now have migrant house projects. The Casa Betania is one of those migrant houses. Our first parish migrant house exclusively houses single migrant men. Ten men live there at the moment (and two dogs!).

The second parish Migrant House, called “Casa Betania,” has to been set up to exclusively receive migrant women and children, victims of domestic violence, who are in hiding from their male partners and who have nowhere else to live.  

  1. An Increase in domestic violence during the Covid-19 pandemic. 
    The economic recession as a result of the pandemic has particularly affected these migrant communities, leading to widespread unemployment and the inability to pay for lodgings and basic necessities such as food and clothing. There has also been a notable increase in domestic violence cases and a deterioration of people's mental health.  
     
  2. Domestic Violence in the migrant community---an urgent problem
    In Chile, there are some government and church run shelters for victims of domestic violence, including for those from the migrant community. Unfortunately, however, there are not enough shelters with accommodation available to meet this increased and urgent need. 
     
  3. Setting up Casa Betania 
    On a number of occasions, the parish had received urgent requests from the Catholic Institute of Migration, (INCAMI) to receive into our parish migrant house several Haitian and Venezuelan women and their children. These women were of victims of domestic violence and had nowhere else to escape to from their abusive partners. At that time, our parish migrant house was not only full but also housed only single men. Sadly we had to deny each of these requests.  When we received an urgent request to receive a battered 27-year-old Haitian woman called V and her 16 four-month-old baby daughter, we decided we had to do something.

    The parish chapel community decided they would receive them and placed them to live in the Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meeting room, which also acts as a multi-purpose meeting room for other parish groups. Before long, we received another battered Haitian woman, 47-year-old R with her 15-year-old daughter. They were in the Narcotic Anonymous (NA) meeting room, which also acts as multi-purpose meeting room for other parish groups.  

  4. What is the idea of Casa Betania? 
    Casa Betania has been set up to provide urgent, but temporary accommodation, for battered and abused migrant women and children, who are victims of domestic violence and abusive relationships. Our first resident and her baby have now moved to a more permanent arrangement.  

    The Catholic Institute of Migration, (INCAMI) works to help these women find a permanent solution to their situation. This involves seeking permanent accommodation for them and working with them on their legal rights, court cases, employment and help with their visas permits.  

  5. How is Casa Betania organized and what is the network of contacts behind it? 
    Columban Father Martin Koroiciri and a group of committed lay leaders form a ministry group that meets regularly to support the Casa Betania project. Two large public hospitals in the southern suburbs of Santiago, Hospital Sotero del Rio and Hospital El Pino, as well as a local Migrant Women’s Network, make contact with this support group when a migrant woman arrives beaten and abused at hospital. Through counseling, these women are asked whether they would like to leave their abusive relationships. If they do wish to leave, then contact is made with a number of emergency organizations, such as Casa Betania, as to whether they have accommodation available to receive these women. The police are also informed and take the necessary steps against the perpetrator. 

    While their cases are being examined, Casa Betania offers a place for women and their children to heal, find peace and gradually over time begin life anew.

  6. What has setting up Casa Betania involved?  
    Our first big task was to convert the two meetings rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous into bedrooms. We had to borrow beds from another parish which will have to be returned by the end of November. We also had to borrow closets, seats, a table and chair, TVs, curtains, wardrobes etc., to be able to able to make these rooms into livable homes. The residents of Casa Betania use the kitchen area of the chapel community, with its kitchen sink, stove for cooking, refrigerator, plates and cutlery.  

 

 

Our Appeal for funds for the Casa Betania project. 

PROJECT ONE: Fixing the Building

Work needs to be done on the existing building, including developing a new meeting room space; repairing the roof; and installing insulation into the meeting rooms turning into living quarters. With the loss of two of our meeting rooms to Casa Betania, this leaves us with only one meeting room for all our chapel groups when there are no funeral wake occurring.  What we urgently need therefore is to create at least one other meeting room space.

Unfortunately, the 50-year-old roof (possibly made of asbestos cement) above the is quite damaged, with many cracks and holes. This will have to be repaired as every time it rains, the roof leaks considerably, forming large puddles. 

We also intend to install insulation into the roof of the Casa Betania living space (the former AA and NA meeting rooms), to keep these two rooms cool in summer and warm in winter.

At today’s exchange rate, we are seeking $5,216 Project One of Casa Betania.  

 

PROJECT TWO: Support for Casa Betania

In order for the Casa Betania project to be able to continue to function, we need some financial help to buy beds and household furniture, which have been borrowed at the moment, as well as help with the extra light, gas, water bills and the cost of food and cleaning materials. 

While the women are living at Casa Betania, we try to help them find some employment. We will also be 

  1. An Increase in domestic violence during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

    The economic recession as a result of the pandemic has particularly affected these migrant communities, leading to widespread unemployment and the inability to pay for lodgings and basic necessities such as food and clothing. There has also been a notable increase in domestic violence cases and a deterioration of people's mental health.  

  2. Domestic Violence in the migrant community – an urgent problem 

    In Chile, there are some government and church run shelters for victims of domestic violence, including for those from the migrant community. Unfortunately, however, there are not enough shelters with accommodation available to meet this increased and urgent need. 

 

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Columban logoThe Columbans are a society of missionaries, including priests and lay people, who minister to people of various cultures as a way of witnessing to the universal love of God.

We go in the name of the Church to announce, by deed and word, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

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Missionary Society of St. Columban
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Phone: 877-299-1920
Fax: 402-291-4984
email: mission@columban.org