Our Thursday began with an informational session followed by volunteer work at Enlace, a non-profit group aimed at ending domestic violence and promoting healthy families. Enlace began in 2000 with two employees and little confidence in sustainability. Today, the Enlace budget is $1.7M with 25 staff members including four case managers, three trained therapists, two attorneys and one AmeriCorp volunteer.
In direct service programs, nearly 600 families are served each year. Formal collaboration has been achieved with the sexual assault nurse examiners. There is tremendous fear for undocumented immigrants to work with formal and/or public service agencies. Many undocumented immigrants do not know the law well enough to know their rights and fear deportation from the slightest bit of diverted attention. This is especially troubling in cases of domestic violence. Victims are often forced to choose the lesser of two evils: stay with the abuser or report the problem and risk being exploited. Since 2010, force used by the Albuquerque Police Department has resulted in the deaths of 30 community members. Regardless of justification, it is no wonder fear and apprehension exist among immigrants in trusting the law.
Twenty-five people working for Enlace cannot end domestic violence. It takes a community to support the effort and make the change. The best leaders for enacting this change are the survivors themselves. We see this in our own community with organizations like Family Services, the Jackie Nitchke Center and Golden House. At times, the need can feel overwhelming. One resounding theme from this week of service has been the importance of people: people with two hands to help people in need.
Education and empowerment are the keys to triumph. Be part of the movement to make positive change happen.