MADRE, An International Women's Human Rights Org.

MADRE's mission is to advance women's human rights by meeting urgent needs in communities and building lasting solutions to the crises women face. MADRE works towards a world in which all people enjoy the fullest range of individual and collective human rights; in which resources are shared equitably and sustainably; in which women participate effectively in all aspects of society; and in which people have a meaningful say in policies that affect their lives. MADRE's vision is enacted with an understanding of the inter-relationships between the various issues we address and by a commitment to working in partnership with women at the local, regional and international levels who share our go...
Aug 19, 2013

Nuestras Voces al Infinito

This past month, our sister organization CHIRAPAQ released Nuestras Voces al Infinito, a short film exploring the lives of two Indigenous women who are making a difference in their communities as radio broadcasters for Voice for Justice. Leónidas is a sheep herder from a remote community in the Andean region of Peru. Paquita studies early childhood education at university and is from a Shipibo community in the Peruvian Amazon.

Leónidas starts her day at dawn, cooking soup and potatoes for her family. After her daily work she goes to the shack, which serves as a radio station, and begins her broadcast. Since becoming involved with Voices for Justice, her commitment has never wavered. She firmly believes in the importance of communication for Indigenous Peoples and has dreams for her future and that of her community. Leónidas hopes that one day her family will be able to move to a nicer, cleaner community, and that younger generations will continue to speak Quechua and maintain the cultural traditions of their ancestors.

When Paquita was first offered the chance to participate in the weekly radio series, she was unsure of what to say. Today, she contributes with confidence, sharing lessons learned from her classes at the university and speaking with pride about Shipibo culture and other topics of interest to her community back home.

The radio program has benefited not only volunteer broadcasters like Leónidas and Paquita, but their listeners as well. Parents report that their children are listening and learning, and in the words of Paquita, “today, I see many youths that are no longer marginalized or ashamed, because they have understood that who one is and how one lives is something that no one will ever be able to take away”.  The voices of these women “flow like rivers and move with the wind…rising from Mother Earth…they are one with the universe”.

Their voices are infinite, and infinitely powerful.

Aug 15, 2013

Hear Their Stories of Survival

It’s been three years since the devastating earthquake in Haiti, but what only lasted seconds has continued to reverberate for young girls there. Many were orphaned by the disaster and left to fend for themselves in the dangerous, overcrowded camps. Vulnerable, hungry and alone, many were forced into survival sex — exploited by men who give them basic necessities like shelter, food and water in exchange for sex.

But with your help, we’re breaking the cycle. MADRE and our Haitian sister organization KOFAVIV are working to meet the critical needs of these girls, including a warm meal, shelter and medical treatment. And our Saturday workshops at the KOFAVIV Center are giving them the counseling and social support they need to break free from survival sex and rebuild their lives.

At the Saturday workshops, the girls are able to build their confidence through the support networks and friendships that they form at the Center. One way they do this is through sharing their stories. This therapeutic process allows these girls to begin healing from the physical and emotional traumas they’ve endured.

Recently, KOFAVIV shared some of the stories of these courageous young girls with us**. With permission, we’re sharing them with you now. I hope you’ll read them and see how together, we can truly make a difference in the lives of these brave girls.

**The names of the girls have been changed to protect their identities.

Simone, Age 15
“I don’t have a mother, she died. My dad doesn’t take care of me. I’m living at someone’s house because I don’t have anywhere else to go. But when that person doesn’t have anything for me, I have to go ask the guys who are by my house for a little money so I can eat. They want me to sleep with them before they give it to me. Finally, I gave in. I sold my body to live. Sometimes I sleep with people so I can have a little money to eat. I came to the workshop because I see that it will be good for me. It will help me manage my life and pay for my school. The skills I am learning will help me live.” 

Annette, Age 16
“I live with my aunt. She doesn’t help me at all. She just gives me a place to sleep. To be able to live, I have to sleep with a lot of different people. Sometimes, if I don’t want to, they’ve pointed weapons at me. Sometimes they don’t give me anything afterwards. Or, they give me 50 gourdes, which I can’t buy anything with. I don’t go to school. I’m embarrassed because I don’t even know how to write my name. I come to KOFAVIV because I want my life to change.”

Patricia, Age 14
“I am living by myself in a camp. A married man reached out to me. I don’t have a choice so I’m forced to have sex with men. I go sleep with people to find a way to eat. Sometimes I can make 200 Haitian dollars in a day [$23USD]. But sometimes, I don’t make any money. There are some people who make promises, saying that they will give me the money, then I sleep with them and they don’t give it to me. What pushed me to come to this workshop is that I saw that it will be very useful to me. It will help me be autonomous, and be independent, so I can get out of this life, out of this situation.”

Johanne, Age 13
“I am living with my older sister. She’s 15. Our parents died in the earthquake. Sometimes, I will do people’s laundry to make money. Other times, I will sleep with guys so that I can feed myself. I am proud to come to the workshops. It will be so good for me. I’m going to learn and practice these skills and I will be able to provide for myself and my sister.”

Aug 1, 2013

Update from OWFI

Since our last update, OWFI has been hard at work maintaining the safe houses and providing a secure environment for the women who seek refuge from violent or stressful situations. The medical, counseling and legal services offered at the safe houses have been beneficial to the residents who have continuously expressed their gratitude towards OWFI and the support provided by the staff. When asked if they felt more secure at the safe houses, one resident answered “If I had known about OWFI before, my life would’ve been better; I feel better here.” Another woman living at the safe house responded, “It’s the first time someone gives me something without taking something in return.”

Furthermore, OWFI has expressed the desire to start skill-building classes with the women at the safe house. These classes will not only let the women develop and reinforce useful skills. They will also create a healing environment where the activities will help women overcome the trauma and violence they have faced.

Thank you for your support and we hope to continue to help OWFI maintain these important safe houses! 

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