Emergency Relief Grant 2002:

Ibdaa Cultural Center Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine

Two years ago the Martín-Baró Fund gave Ibdaa a grant to support an oral history project designed to reconnect youth with their family and community histories. This spring, the reoccupation by Israeli Defense Forces of Dheisheh, the refugee camp in which Ibdaa is located, has caused the destruction of many of the Center's facilities including the library, the hub of many of the group's activities for young children.

The Fund has therefore awarded Ibdaa an emergency relief grant in the amount of $5000 to help rebuild the library. Although not our usual practice, the Fund's past support of Ibdaa and the extreme trauma with which its children are grappling today warranted this exception. In support of children's mental health, Ibdaa conducts workshops and special events (e.g. theater, picnics, academic competitions, cultural performances), holds after-school programs, and, in the present moment, provides youth with the only space where they have relative safety and the opportunity simply to play.

In January, 2002, members of the Fund's Program Committe had the opportunity to meet with Ziad Abbas, founder and director of Ibdaa: click here to see our report of this discussion.

Projects Funded in 2002:

Asociación de la Mujer Maya Ixil: Nuevo Amanecer, Chajul, Guatemala.

After more than eight years of psychosocial and development work through which women and children have been able to: 1) discuss the origins of the war, 2) understand the impact of the war on mental health, 3) analyze the condition of women in Guatemala, and 4) develop projects to meet their psychosocial needs in Chajul, the Association of Maya Ixil Women - New Dawn project has extended its work to rural villages surrounding the town. Through creative workshops and organizational development training they are accompanying women in these remote areas in the development of material and psychosocial resources to confront the painful and longstanding legacy of state-sponsored violence and war.

This year's grant will enable ADMI to extend its work to the villages, and develop popular education manuals and teaching resources that will be used by local women in this work. Through our continuing partnership with the group, we hope to learn more about this ongoing work and to share that information in the United States through our educational programming.

Asociación Mujeres en Apoyo Para la Salud Mental Communitaria, San Salvador, El Salvador.

The Women's Association for Community Mental Health works with women in poor and marginalized communities contending with the effects of Salvador's long civil war, and with two devastating earthquakes in 2001. Trained mental health workers facilitate meetings in which women participate in group dynamics, share experiences, and learn about basic human rights regarding healthcare, education, employment, housing, and violence against women. Parallel meetings are undertaken with the participants's children.

AMUSAMECO has had particular success in developing women leaders, debunking taboos about psychology and mental health, and incorporating young women into their Coordinating Committee. In 2002 they will continue this work and focus especially on establishing the independence of longer-term participants as protagonists within their families and communities, expanding their work among other women, and making the organization more widely known in their communities.

Children's Rehabilitation Center, Quezon City, Philippines.

The Children's Rehabilitation Center has been one of the most effective groups working with children whose families have been dislocated by years of military actions against supporters of autonomy for Muslims in the southern Philippines. CRC has also responded to the needs of children facing urban poverty and government neglect of the housing and employment needs of the poor.

Last year's grant aided work with children who suffered the loss of family and friends in Payatas, the site of a huge garbage dump that collapsed. The first two phases of mental health support for Payatas children, emotional release and meaning construction, were completed. The 2002 grant will be used for the third and final stage, cognitive mastery, part of which involves children becoming advocates, through the use of theater arts and provision of direct aid, to help other children facing similar human rights abuses.

Fortaleza de la Mujer Maya, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

Since the colonial era, the indigenous communities of Chiapas have been isolated from the cities and have suffered from marginalization, land seizure, racial discrimination, lack of education, and poor health and hygiene. People who have protested these conditions have often been persecuted, disappeared, or assassinated, giving rise to popular movements such as the Zapatistas. Women suffer disproportionately under these conditions and many are forced to come to cities such as San Cristobal to survive.

Some of these Mayan women in San Cristobal founded FOMMA with the goal of helping others facing a similar plight. The organization provides literacy workshops and creative means of enhancing self-esteem and teaching basic skills. One example is the staging of theater performances, written by participants in their own languages, that enable them to analyze their reality and work to improve their quality of life. The Martín-Baró Fund is providing a third year of support to FOMMA to enable them to continue this important work and expand its reach.

Instituto Accion Para el Progreso, Huancavelica, Peru.

INAPRO is a social service organization working with Andean families who have been subjected to violence from both Sendero (the Shining Path guerilla movement) and Peruvian military forces. Both sides accused the people of collaborating with the other and threatened, assassinated, and tortured them. This situation led to enormous stress and familial violence. The children have faced both political and social violence and suffered psychosocial trauma.

In past years the Martín-Baró Fund supported a project focused on very poor Andean children seeking to help them develop basic capacities such as self-esteem, autonomy, creativity, age-appropriate humor, cultural identity, and socialization skills. This year's grant will enable INAPRO to continue this work, the goal of which is to create conditions that ultimately favor the development of children's capacity to participate responsibly as citizens in a democracy.

K'inal Antzetik, Chiapas, Mexico.

K'inal Antzetik works with communities of resistance to support community-organizing, strengthen community networks of support, and craft culturally appropriate community strategies to deal with the psychosocial and emotional consequences of regional violence against native people. The area in which K'inal Antzetik is located has suffered years of state repression against indigenous peoples, giving rise to the Zapatista uprising.

This year's grant will be used to run mental health and human rights workshops in a number of municipalities, and to support mental health visits in the communities as well as meetings of health promoters. The group will train more human rights and mental health promoters to work on issues concerning the nature of human rights and the denunciation of human rights violations. Mental health promoters will also learn how to take testimonies from victims, provide psychosocial and emotional support, and initiate legal advocacy.

Pastoral de Solidaridad y Reconciliación, San Marcos, Guatemala.

Thirty-six years of war and state-sponsored violence has left seemingly irreversible physical and psychosocial damage in communities throughout Guatemala. Those who survived the torture of family members, massacres, and displacement frequently lived under a code of silence. The San Marcos Pastoral Project for Solidarity and Reconciliation has participated in the Recovery of Historical Memory Project sponsored by the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala, a major effort to break that silence and record the genocide, torture, rapes, kidnappings and militarization of society, and to press for justice.

The Martín-Baró Fund grant to this organization will support workshops through which survivors share their traumatic experiences and work together to find ways to solve their individual and community problems in a spirit of solidarity. It will facilitate training workshops for 40 "animators of reconciliation" who will then offer a series of three participatory workshops (for 30 participants in each community) focusing on: 1) the Guatemalan Historical Context, 2) Violence - focusing on strategies behind the violence and its effects on communities, and 3) the challenges of repairing the social fabric.

Solidarite des Femmes de Fizi pour le Bien-Etre Familial, Democratic Republic of Congo.

SOFIBEF was founded by a group of peasant women in the Fizi region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in response to armed tribal and regional conflict which began four years ago. The organization is dedicated to defending and protecting the human rights of women and children who have become even more vulnerable since the onset of violence that has particularly devastated the Fizi region of the Congo.

Despite their limited resources, SOFIBEF has provided mental health services in the form of group and individual counseling and a micro-credit program for women, and created a newsletter in order to share information about the ways in which people can develop and maintain coping skills when faced with overwhelming difficulties. This work will be continued with the support of this year's Martín-Baró Fund grant.

Slum Development Society, Chennai, India

The Slum Development Society is a grassroots organization formed to address the human rights and mental health problems of the Dalit, or undercaste, in India. In past years the Martín-Baró Fund has supported SDS programs designed to provide civil rights education and emotional and community support to the Dalit of rural Tamilnadu.

This year's grant will enable the SDS to focus on fifteen villages in its target area and offer a range of activities - literacy education, sports and games, play therapy, meditation, charades, street theater, music, and human rights seminars - aimed at fostering mental health and self-esteem, while providing information on civil and human rights.