Carmen del Rio
I attended the Women’s Conference for Nuclear Disarmament in Geneva in 1984 and became a member of the group that came out from the conference, which we later named the Feminist International for Peace and Food, and which worked together until the Nairobi Conference. I attended the meetings of FIPF in Texas and Rome. In January of 1985 I organized the first meeting of OMIDES a Chilean Women’s group that worked against the dictatorship and held a social program in La Bandera, a barrio in Santiago, Chile. In March 1985 I began a soup kitchen in La Bandera and the distribution of resources to more than 60 families, also building emergency housing (that became permanent).
I attended preliminary conferences for Nairobi in the USA and Canada and then went to the Nairobi conference, where translation from Spanish to English was needed, and helped with different kinds of organizational activities there. After the Nairobi Conference I attended the Third Feminist Latin American Conference, held in Brazil. On my return to Chile we held a large OMIDES meeting to discuss militarism. Later that summer I came to the USA for a peace tour to spread the message of Nairobi with Genevieve Vaughan, Sissy Farenthold and Elizabeth Okwenge from Uganda. For the next four years I participated at different times in the U.S. peace caravan with different members of FIPF.
During the years that followed many activities were organized through OMIDES with the help of the Foundation. For example we organized Christmas parties for the children in La Bandera. We received economic support for different emergencies coming out of the military regime such as paying for the legal defense and release of prisoners.
The grassroots leader Felisa Gaete held a pool of work for the unemployed in our office. Later together with Gloria Rodriguez, she had the opportunity, with the help of the Foundation, to attend the Feminist Latin American Conference in Mexico. There was also free psychological help provided at the office for women and children. We organized seminars for education on development and violence. We participated in the protests against the dictatorship.
The soup kitchen grew from 30 to 170 people. This group in La Bandera became a support for all, not only in the nutrient way but also in the humanitarian aspect. It has continued with educational projects supported by the Foundation, most recently, in the last two years emphasizing education to prevent AIDS.