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May 7, 2019

A new approach

Our partner, the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), recently welcomed nearly 50 new and 10 returning participants to their counseling and peer support sessions at one of their Women’s Centers. Many of these women are survivors of terrible violence, including captivity by ISIS.

For these sessions, OWFI tried something new - and it worked. Usually, the sessions are a combination of trauma healing and reintegration. But this time, they split the sessions, focusing on each element in turn. This helped the women first confront the crises they had endured and also realize that their past experiences didn’t have to dictate their present and futures.

These two distinct sessions helped women separate their past from their future. The trauma healing sessions give survivors the opportunity to share their stories of trauma in a group setting and get support from specialized counselors. And the reintegration sessions created a space to talk about their fears and anxieties about the outside world. At these sessions, women learned social skills that will help them reintegrate back into their communities.

Women who had removed themselves from society for years following their traumatic experiences as ISIS captives have reported that, after attending OWFI’s sessions, they feel like they belong again. This new approach has enabled these sessions to breathe new life and possibility into survivors.

We’re always inspired by our thoughtful partners who adapt to provide the most useful and caring support to survivors. Thank you for making this vital work possible!

Apr 8, 2019

Harvesting Hope in Photos

Winter and spring are a busy time for the local women farmers who participate in Harvesting Hope -- the program we run with our Nicaraguan partner, Wangki Tangni! These photos will help guide you through their process.

In the first photo, you can see women getting ready to head out to tend to their fields - some of which can only be reached by boat.

In the second photo, a local woman weeds her field to help raise a successful crop of vegetables.

And in the third photo, after spending much time caring for the crops, it is time for the first harvest of the year!

In the final photos you can see the results of all of their hard work. The women farmers take their crops to local markets to sell. They can use this money to reinvest in their farm and support their families - by having healthy vegetables to feed their children and extra funds from selling their crops.

And through the Harvesting Hope program, local women farmers have a community to lean on. Together, with you, we’re creating stronger and healthier communities. Thank you for making this vital work possible!

Photo credit: Wangki Tangni

Apr 4, 2019

Yina's Story

When MADRE first partnered with Taller de Vida (Workshop for Life) in Colombia in 2001, the war there had already been raging for decades. The prospect of peace seemed impossible to many – but not to our visionary grassroots partners. They have always kept peace in sight, even in the worst days of war. They work to meet people’s urgent needs, to build resilience and to bring healing through creative expression and community gatherings, focusing on children exploited as soldiers. Some of the young women our partners work with were just girls when they were forced into armed groups.

When Yina was barely 12 years old, she ran away from home, escaping an abusive family life. She was recruited by one of the armed groups active in her community’s region and became one of Colombia’s many children exploited as soldiers. When she finally was able to leave the group, after almost five years, she felt lost. Her childhood had been stolen from her, and she didn’t know how to rejoin her community. After years in an armed group, she had no outlet to express what she had gone through. But then, she found Taller de Vida, and she found other young people who shared her experience. With your support, she discovered her talent for theater and began performing in plays that told people’s stories of surviving the war.

Yina’s story shows the real impact of the work that you help make possible. Thanks to the support she found at Taller de Vida - and from you - she found a new community and purpose. Today, Yina is a social worker at Taller de Vida and a leader for young people following in her footsteps. In the photo you can see Yina, today, with her husband and children.

Photo credit: MADRE

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