In 1983, Sr. Margarita Navarro, CSJ, and Fr. Angel Torrellas, OP, arrived in the new neighborhood of Batahola Norte with the dream of educating children and adults, empowering women, and nurturing community in a safe and faith-filled environment. They began by visiting more than 800 homes, learning the peoples’ needs and dreams, recognizing who they were and what they had. Their primary objective was to accompany the people of the neighborhood in their search for new forms of a simple life with dignity and friendship without fear in the midst of deep poverty. Fr. Angel began his work by teaching music and catechism to the children, and Sr. Margie started an vocational program with the women, beginning with a sewing class.
With the help of the Batahola community, Sr. Margie and Fr. Angel built the neighborhood’s primary school. After the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, they mobilized resources to build homes and provide vocational education in affected rural communities. The CCBN grew from a 2-room prefabricated house to occupy half a city block with its classrooms, library, auditorium and gardens. These activities created jobs for local people, and the women and children who were educated at the CCBN are now its teachers and administrators, creating new programs based on their transformational experiences, to provide strategic and sustainable alternatives for overcoming the dire poverty and violence facing women and their families throughout Managua. Today, thousands of beneficiaries pass through the CCBN’s door each year.
Before Sr. Margie’s death in 2001, a few Sisters of St. Joseph conducted training for a core of local women to assume CCBN leadership. Fr. Angel died unexpectedly in January 2002. In 2001 Friends of Batahola was founded to support the CCBN and help it continue through regular visits, dependable financial support, times of spiritual sharing and planning.