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Oct 3, 2019

Taller de Vida at the Truth Commission

Indigenous leaders at the Truth Commission.
Indigenous leaders at the Truth Commission.

Since 2001, MADRE and our partner, Taller de Vida, have worked together to put an end to the long-term armed conflict, promoting justice and building a sustainable peace in communities affected by war across Colombia. MADRE has supported Taller de Vida to bring art therapy and healing to Indigenous and Afro-descendent communities and support younger generations to step up and reclaim peace for their present and their future. With your support, Taller de Vida leads psychosocial support and reintegration programs for former child soldiers, and helps empower survivors of the armed conflict.

Earlier this month, Taller de Vida agreed to work with the Truth Commission to shed light on the atrocities communities suffered due to decades of war. With the peace accords signed and at the crossroads for reparations and justice, Taller de Vida is ensuring that children, young people, and girls from Indigenous and Afro communities across Colombia are not only included, but that they play an active role in the peace process. Thanks to their local advocacy, Taller de Vida brought the voices of young people to the Truth Commission to document and acknowledge human rights violations committed during the conflict. This is an important step toward justice and the recognition of the human right to survivors of knowing the truth about the consequences of armed conflict in remote communities.

With MADRE’s support, and yours, Taller De Vida will play a critical role in the Commission, ensuring that the voices of children, young people, Indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians can be listened to and taken into account when writing the history of the country’s turbulent 50 years of conflict. For Taller de Vida to have their peacebuilding contributions recognized at such a significant level is an historic achievement for the organization and its members. It’s role in the Truth Commission underscores the value of their community-based leadership that MADRE has supported over 15 years.

Taller de Vida will contribute their expertise in art-therapy and psychosocial approach to support the Truth Commission in documenting cases of human rights violations of children and youth during the armed conflict and bring about reconciliation and restorative justice for children, young people, Indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian communities. This represents a fundamental step to recognize survivors’ experiences and build a stable and lasting peace in Colombia. The transitional justice mechanism of truth seeking represents a catalyst for prosecutions, reparations and institutional reform. Thank you for making this possible!

Photo credit: Taller de Vida

Oct 3, 2019

Harvesting Hope Across Borders

Women sell their produce at a market.
Women sell their produce at a market.

This summer, our Nicaraguan partner, Wangki Tangni, hosted a delegation of Indigenous women from another partner organization, MUIXIL, from Guatemala. The two groups exchanged ideas and shared strategies, including a discussion about the Harvesting Hope program. Wangki Tangni shared the 15-year history of Harvesting Hope: how the program operates and its growth over the years.

Since its creation in 2003, Harvesting Hope has made significant changes to the community and its outlook for the future. With funds raised from selling their produce, local women farmers were able to help bring potable water to their community; they also have electricity and can afford to send their children to school to get a higher education.

The convening groups also shared their ideas for the program’s future; the women have started teaching younger generations the value and importance of harvesting and want to expand this education, buy more seeds, and explore the best ways to widen the market for their goods. They also hope to one day have better transportation, allowing them to sell produce in hard-to-reach communities.

Creating spaces for Indigenous women to gather helps innovation to flourish. Our partners from MUIXIL can now bring back to their own communities what they’ve learned from Harvesting Hope and pass on their new expertise and ideas. Your support of MADRE makes possible these advancements for Harvesting Hope and all of the changes it makes possible!

Photo credit: Wangki Tangni

Aug 20, 2019

Aya's Story Continued

Aya*, a young widow, lived on a farm in Iraq with her two adult stepsons and her own children before ISIS took over. Iraqi tribal law says that land passes down to sons, not wives, so after her husband died Aya’s home belonged to her stepsons, but her children worked the farm so they were allowed to remain. When ISIS invaded her town, however, Aya’s eldest son was killed, so she fled with her two younger children and infant grandchild.

Once her town was liberated from ISIS control, Aya tried to return home. But without her eldest son to work on the farm, her stepsons refused to accept her.

Desperate for a place for her family to stay, Aya searched for shelter. She met a farmer who offered her lodging in exchange for work, but the conditions were so dismal she needed a way out. A neighbor who knew of her situation suggested our partner, the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), and asked them to help her.

OWFI brought Aya and her family to a shelter where they stayed for seven months. Under OWFI’s care, they received much needed support and resources to help rebuild their lives: medical care, psychosocial support, and basics like food and clothing.

Once Aya’s basic needs were met, OWFI began mediations between Aya and her stepsons, hoping to reach an agreement that would allow the family to return home. Through a months-long process guided by OWFI staff members, trust was rebuilt among the family, and Aya’s stepsons agreed to let her return. Thanks to your support, Aya and her children once again can live safely on their farm.

In addition to finding Aya’s family a safe place to live, OWFI also wanted to ensure that the family would thrive. Helping Aya secure IDs for her children has enabled her to enroll her children in school so their futures can be brighter.

Thanks to OWFI — and thanks to you — Aya and her family bare living more securely with a solid plan for the future. Thank you for making this life-changing work possible!


*Names have been changed to respect the privacy of individuals.

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