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Aug 19, 2019

Reflections on our Interconnectedness

Our partner, Lucy, and MADRE board member Anne
Our partner, Lucy, and MADRE board member Anne

Longtime MADRE board member, Elyse Lightman Samuels, wrote a beautiful and thoughtful piece about our work in Kenya. She shares reflections about our Kenyan partner, the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), their leader, Lucy Mulenkei, and building connections with MADRE members like you. We hope you find it as inspiring as we do. Thank you for making our lifesaving climate justice work with IIN possible!
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“We are all connected,” said Lucy Mulenkei, Executive Director of the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) in Kenya and longtime partner of MADRE, who spoke earlier this year at a gathering hosted by MADRE Board Co-Chair, Anne Hess.

When Lucy meets with women from rural Indigenous communities to talk about climate change and human rights, she leans into the theme of interconnectedness. The message that we are more powerful when we work together, was woven through her remarks as she addressed a small gathering of MADRE members.

Lucy described how women experience climate crisis firsthand, such as the severe weather that causes droughts and decimates crops. IIN teaches women to plant trees around their homes and how to create and sustain small farms. Lucy’s organization also helps women create corrugated roofs and a water catchment system, so water is available for farming and livestock.

These are huge steps forward: instead of spending nearly two-thirds of their time gathering muddy water from the river, women can raise nutritious food from their family farms. They can raise money by selling vegetables and send their daughters to school, rather than trading them for a dowry in early marriage to make ends meet.

Lucy reminded us, thoughtfully and directly, that our actions in the US impact climate crisis the world over, with particularly harsh impacts on rural and Indigenous women. The need is great for policymakers in the US and elsewhere to hear from women experiencing climate crisis firsthand in their communities. Women have the solutions, declared Lucy, and we must uplift their voices.

“True partnerships begin with trust,” Lucy said, referencing MADRE’s long-term partnership with IIN. “When we began working with MADRE, it was like a sister-to-sister way. They became family. Everybody is important, and everybody has a place. That’s why we feel comfortable, and why we have worked together for over 15 years.”

As Lucy was speaking, the topic arose of MADRE’s recent delegation to Kenya. Referring to the MADRE members who had visited the local communities, she shared, “Sometimes it’s not just the material that you give, but the company that you are. For you to come to women’s homes, sit with them, see how they cook and make a living, this is powerful. When I go back, they’ll ask me about you all, they’ll remember your names. And they will show your pictures to their children, again and again.”

Many of us wonder what difference we can make, as one individual, to help communities under threat or to confront global emergencies like the climate crisis. Without question, providing our financial resources, when we’re able to do so, matters a great deal. So does listening, learning, lending our voices, and standing with one another.

When we recognize and embrace our interconnectedness, we move closer to MADRE’s vision: a world where all people enjoy the fullest range of individual and collective human rights; where resources are shared equitably and sustainably; where women participate effectively in all aspects of society; and where people have a meaningful say in policies that affect their lives. This vision starts with each of us.


Photo credits: MADRE

Women dance together at a MADRE-organized exchange
Women dance together at a MADRE-organized exchange
We are stronger when we stand with one another
We are stronger when we stand with one another
Jul 2, 2019

Red Hand Day

After decades of war, many children in Colombia have never known what peace looks like. But violence is all too familiar. Armed groups forced children to become soldiers. Girls and young women were the targets of sexual violence, turning their bodies into battlefields. 

Earlier this year, MADRE visited an elementary school in Colombia with our partner, Taller de Vida, in recognition of International Day Against the Recruitment of Child Soldiers (Red Hand Day).

We commit ourselves to protect children and open healing spaces that allow them to dream big. With your support, we provide art therapy and counseling for former child soldiers and survivors of sexual violence. These activities create a safe space for children to build friendships and imagine a peaceful world.

In these photos, you can see children from the elementary school participating in an art activity for Red Hand Day. Thank you for all you do to support these children!

Photo credit: MADRE

Jul 2, 2019

Harvesting Hope in Photos Part 2

Women load the boat with produce
Women load the boat with produce

In the remote community of Waspam on Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Coast, we work with our partners, Wangki Tangni to support Indigenous women farmers. One of the biggest challenges they face is that their isolated communities are only accessible by boat. That means that women have to make a long journey down a river to bring their produce to market.

What’s waiting for them at the other end? The chance to raise money to sustain their families, and to make connections with other women farmers facing the same challenges. In the photos below, you can see just what it takes to make that long trip.

We are proud to partner with Wangki Tangni to reach these remote communities and get them the support they need.

What’s more, this region faces intensifying storms due to climate change, hindering harvests. But with farming workshops and seed supplies, these women farmers are learning techniques to help raise successful harvests to sell at MADRE-sponsored farmers markets. Thank you for supporting these women farmers, their families and their communities!

Photo credit: Wangki Tangni

Two boats filled to the brim with produce take off
Two boats filled to the brim with produce take off
They are on their way!
They are on their way!
Women guide the boat to shore
Women guide the boat to shore
Finally, they unload the produce
Finally, they unload the produce
 
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