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...
Jul 26, 2011

Help Survivors of the Famine in Somalia

We just received updates from our partners in Kenya, who are mobilizing urgently to give life-saving aid to people suffering in the famine in East Africa. Hubbie Hussein Al-Haji, of our partner organization, Womankind Kenya, told us that the situation is dire. But with your support, we can save lives.

Hubbie told us:

“The situation is so bad that children, lactating mothers and pregnant women are dying in great numbers due to lack of basic needs, including health services.”

You can be a part of this urgent effort.

Womankind Kenya is an organization of Somali pastoralists – the very people who have been most decimated by this famine. They work with communities in northeastern Kenya, an area bordering Somalia that is in urgent need of help. There is not enough humanitarian aid for the thousands of people fleeing to refugee camps there.

Our partners told us that the Kenyan government is overwhelmed and has declared a national emergency. But Womankind Kenya is local community-based organization. They know what supplies are urgently needed, and how to deliver them to those that need it most.

Deeply impoverished Kenyan communities themselves suffering from the drought are stretching their resources to help with the influx of refugees from Somalia. Hubbie shared that:

“There are also refugees in Ijara District close to the border of Somalia who have not been recognized by the government as refugees but are welcomed by the local community. However, the local communities have nothing to offer except to allow them to settle amongst them to suffer together.”

This is how MADRE makes a difference, by partnering with grassroots organizations who can identify needs otherwise neglected. These local communities and displaced people may not receive government assistance or humanitarian aid from the big aid agencies in the camps—but they can count on your support as a MADRE member.

And they can count on you to understand that women are specifically impacted by disaster and displacement. Hubbie explained:

“Many lives are lost on the way from Somalia, and on top of that, women and girls are sexually abused as they trek in search of a better life.”

MADRE and Womankind Kenya are working to make sure that women have the care and support they need to survive and to provide for their families.

Hubbie also told us that the most urgent needs for refugees now are water, food, clothes, medical outreach and shelter. She also said that Womankind Kenya is purchasing weakened livestock from refugees who can’t afford to keep them and using them to provide food for famine-affected families.

With your support, many lives can be saved.

Jul 1, 2011

Escaping the Life of a Child Soldier in Colombia

The following story is from a young woman named Marta, who was forced to join a paramilitary group in Colombia when she was only 11 years old. MADRE's partner organization in Colombia, Taller de Vida, has aided her in escaping a life of violence.

“We never experienced a childhood,” said Marta, who was kidnapped and trained to fight for a paramilitary group in Colombia when she was 11. “We exchanged our dolls for rifles, our games for combat.” Marta was eventually released onto the streets of Bogotá but she could barely read and was haunted by the killings she had been forced to commit.

Marta found MADRE’s partner organization, Taller de Vida. Today she helps other young people heal from the wounds of war and build real alternatives to lives of violence. “Taller de Vida gave me una nueva vida (a new life),” said Marta. The organization provides trauma counseling and remedial education to help children who have been displaced catch up on their schooling, adjust to life in the city, and defend their human rights.

Taller de Vida also offers after-school sports, art, and theater programs to help young people develop their artistic talents and learn to express themselves through acting, dance, writing and painting. These programs help young people who have experienced enduring trauma from the armed conflict envision—and work to create—a more peaceful world. Through art, the youth at Taller de Vida are able to share past experiences and build a network of support for their future.

Links:

Jul 1, 2011

Heavy Rains Forecast a Deadly Hurricane Season for Haiti

Heavy rains pelting Haiti in early June triggered flash floods and mudslides, leading to the deaths of at least 25 people. The rains came just a week into the official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season on June 1, and demonstrate the severe devastation this hurricane season is likely to bring.

Haiti is still reeling from last year’s earthquake, which displaced millions, killed hundreds of thousands and severely damaged the country’s infrastructure. Millions still live in displacement camps, with nothing more than plastic tents to serve as shelter from the torrential rains. Dozens had to be evacuated as their camps flooded.

These rains and the upcoming hurricane season are also likely to worsen the cholera epidemic in the country, which has already affected 321,066 people and killed 5,337. Cholera is a water-borne disease caused by bacteria that breeds in dirty, standstill water, which in the aftermath of the rains blankets many of Haiti’s displacement camps.

MADRE has been working with KOFAVIV, a local Haitian grassroots women’s organization before and since last year’s earthquake. A few days ago, they updated us on the situation on the ground, calling it “critical” and reporting that many KOFAVIV agents living in the camps have lost their homes in the flooding.

The rains have subsided for now, but as we look ahead to the devastation that this hurricane season may yet bring, it is important that we support relief efforts that include women and listen to their demands. As pillars of their communities, women know how best to rebuild. And as they continue their tireless work to rebuild neighborhoods and deliver lifesaving aid a year and a half after the earthquake hit, no one is better prepared to spring into action when the next disaster strikes.

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