DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT – NEW IMAGE NICARAGUA
LAMb Agent and New Image Project Manager: Jenna Dollin
Who are We?
New Image is an organization based out of Managua, Nicaragua, founded in 1998 by Helen Goatley of New Zealand. Helen wanted to create a comfortable, faith based environment for victims of sexual exploitation to meet together to share their stories and to receive education on alternative sources of income. Due to health issues Helen returned home to New Zealand in 2005. It had to be decided whether or not the mission would continue. Two people were selected to carry on the mission, Hellen and Xiomara. Hellen is a graduate of business studies in Nicaragua and Xiomara is a product of New Image, having been a prostitute herself before meeting Helen Goatley.
New Image has a board with five members, who meet quarterly. Two of their board members are the directors of Christ for the City in Nicaragua. Christ for the City is one of New Image’s main donors, based out of the United States. Helen Goatley also remains a donor from New Zealand. Mission teams who come through Christ for the City will often support New Image by selling their crafts in the United States. Long term missionaries in Nicaragua volunteer their time to teach the women crafts and English.
What do We Do?
New Image works to transition the victims of sexual exploitation into new, safe lifestyles. As the women attend weekly gatherings they can make their own decision to stop working in the commercial sex industry, knowing they will have a support network in New Image. Hellen and Xiomara invite women working in the streets to attend weekly meetings. They also offer weekly sessions where women can learn new skills such as sewing, painting and receive English lessons.
New Image is very involved in the community around them in order to identify women to invite to their Bible studies and classes. Larger events are done, such as picnics or handing out refreshments, to reach potential new members. Hellen and Xiomara often walk out into the areas where prostitutes are working to speak with them and witness to them. New Image has gained a reputation and women who are not personally invited, will attend meetings due to word of mouth.
New Image does not provide a living space for the women in their program. Women must make the effort to come to scheduled meetings. New Image uses a very personal approach by creating relationships with each woman they support. Similar to a rehabilitation program, New Image helps equip women to survive in their community without removing them from that community. Women must make their own decision to follow Christ, and New Image will help them along their journey financially, spiritually and emotionally.
New Image creates a safe environment for women to come and share their experiences and feelings. There is no judgment and the women find they can relate to one another. One member described the fellowship she found in New Image as being like her “family” and she felt she was treated as though they had known her all her life. New Image communicates to these women that there is hope for a different life and that they have purpose and significance.
The Commercial Sex Industry in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Education is not valued in their culture and many women find themselves poor and desolate with a family to provide for. Without education many of these women feel they have no other options then to sell their bodies to survive. As Nicaragua becomes a popular vacation destination, due to affordable prices and an attractive landscape, more tourist are entering the country. The fear is that sex tourism will become a norm for the country, attracting many sexual predators, which Nicaragua will not be prepared to monitor properly. One
local business owner expressed her fear of Nicaragua becoming the next Thailand. With the threat of increasing sexual predators New Image is needed more than ever.
Prostitution is often a family trade. Women are either forced by their family or their mothers were also prostitutes. New Image is working to break this cycle and to spare the next generation of this lifestyle. With the increase of sex tourism, Nicaragua is seeing younger and younger girls working on the streets and even being sold by their own families for sex. By introducing the value of education to these women, they are breaking the cycle by revealing alternative ways to make an income. In turn, the women in the program are valuing education and their own self worth, while instilling these values into their children. New Image does not only transform the lives of the women in their program but also the many families connected to these women by breaking the cycle of abuse and giving hope for the future.
To assist women in the commercial sex industry during their time of transition into a new lifestyle. We equip them through education, life skills and a biblical worldview.
See women transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ and equipped to find another source of income while raising their self worth and empowering them.
New Image is constantly working towards growing their ministry and offering the utmost support. The following is a detailed list of different items and program expansions New Image is hoping to attain and develop over the next year.
1. New Image is currently in the process of attaining their charitable status. Their lawyer has projected that this process should be completed this year (2013).
2. As of March 2013, New Image has begun renting a new, larger location in Managua. This new location will allow them more space to train, counsel and meet with women. With this new location come many short term goals to furnish and set up their new home.
With these new items New Image hopes to expand their training. Previously, due to space constraint, training was limited to crafts and English lessons. Now, with a new space and kitchen they hope to expand their training to cooking, hair dressing and computer lessons. The following is a list of needs expressed by the leaders of New Image to be obtained in the next year:
• TV, speakers, DVD player
• Tables for sewing and crafts
• Cookware to teach women how to cook
• “Pantry” project (food on standby at all times for women who need it in emergencies)
• Tables and chairs for Bible studies and meetings
• Office furniture and filing cabinets to set up an official office space for admin
• Computer printer for admin
• Computers (for training purposes)
• General décor, such as curtain, to make the space comfortable and inviting to newcomers
• Containers (for storage)
• General tools for home maintenance
3. New Image also hopes to hire a full time counsellor to be available for the women in the program and offer professional support.
4. Expand craft sales and develop program for finding sustainable ways for women to make alternative incomes.
5. New Image hopes to develop their program to support the children of the women attending classes. Currently, New Image offers schools supplies to the women for when their children start the school year. This program could be expanded to include day care for children while their mothers are in classes or Bible studies, and to provide more training to the women on parenting. A potential partnership to provide vitamins to the children could be developed through the “Enrich” program also working through the Barnabas Group.
6. A potential project New Image is interested in is creating a sponsorship program where donors can sponsor specific women during their transition out of prostitution. This sponsorship would be for a specific amount of time as the woman learns new skills and looks for an alternative source of income.
7. Another potential way to support the families of New Image is by offering a scholarship program to members of the program or to their children to encourage them to attend University. Nicaragua has free, public University but it can be expensive to travel to school and pay for supplies. New Image could support individuals who show initiative in their education.