I had thought that the monsoon in India was intense but the rains in northern Uganda were something else. The rain falls from the sky so hard and so fast, it was almost impossible to see or hear anything around me. The runoff from the hills quickly gathered and within minutes the small streams we had crossed by motorbike became beautiful chocolate brown torrents, washing away anything and everything that got in their way. Then as quickly as it had arrived, it disappeared and the soaked soils and water logged straw thatches of the adobe beehive huts began to smoke with steam as they were once again bathed in the intense African sun.
Rose Cunningham, a Miskito woman from Nicaragua’s remote North Atlantic Autonomous Region, is another woman who has spent years dedicated to building stronger and healthier communities. Cunningham founded the grassroots organization Wangkyi Tangni (flower of the river) some 30 years ago. The organization assists local communities that are struggling with poverty and food insecurity. The North Atlantic Autonomous Region, although rich in biodiversity and culture, is also affected by both climate change and drug trafficking.
Many of the communities that Wangki Tangni serves are perched along the banks of the Wangki, which means river in Miskito and is also known by its Spanish name, Rio Coco. The river, the lifeblood of the communities, snakes eastward from Nicaragua’s northern highlands, merging with the Honduran border and finally emptying into the Caribbean Sea.
Across the Americas, domestic violence is widespread, remaining a significant health risk to Indigenous women, and women like Cunningham are using creative ways to challenge it. In an interview, Rose explained that Wangki Tangni works with the whole community to address this violence. The organization provides community training on subjects such as human rights, sexual health, violence against women, and sustainable farming. Dedicated to the preservation of Miskito culture, Wangki Tangni has created innovative programs that combine anti-violence education with strategies that maintain important Miskito traditions.