New Projects Funded in 2006:

Komisyon Fanm Viktim pou Viktim, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Haitians living in Port-au-Prince have experienced unprecedented violence and violations of their rights. The women victims participating in KOFAVIV (The Commission of Women Victims for Victims) have not only experienced the trauma of rape, but have also had husbands, partners, children, or other family members brutally killed. In this situation of ongoing violence and unrest, many have lost their means of economic survival and are unable to meet the basic needs of their families. KOFAVIV provides support to individual victims of human rights violations and violence while also facilitating healing processes at a community level. With support from the Martín-Baró Fund, KOFAVIV will offer twelve peer support groups, of twenty members each, employing Reflection Circles to encourage non-hierarchical, participatory interaction and dialogue. KOFAVIV will also hold community Open Space sessions focusing on the mental health impact of violence on the community. These will offer a space in which women can reach beyond their peer groups and discuss the ways violence has affected them. Individuals from other grassroots organizations will be invited to participate in these activities.

Renewal Projects Funded in 2006:

Asociación Centro de Educación y Formación Maya Ixil, San Gaspar de Chajul, Guatemala.

The Center for Mayan Ixil Education and Development works with youth and women in the rural town of Chajul and surrounding villages. This is an area where the country's thirty-six years of civil war and entrenched poverty have profoundly affected individual mental health and community life. The Martín-Baró Fund's support over the past year enabled ACEFOMI to expand its work to four additional villages, as well as to increase activities in the town of Chajul itself. They report that the response of participants in the project over the past year has been very positive. This year's grant will strengthen the community impact of the project's work. The women of ACEFOMI will hold four workshops in each of ten identified indigenous communities. The workshops will address mental health and human rights issues, discuss the importance of gender equality, and examine types of organization and leadership within indigenous communities, as well as specific problems that affect the community including poverty, youth gangs, and family violence.

The Burmese Refugee Project, Thailand.

The Burmese Refugee Project seeks to build participatory models for community development, focusing on education and the social welfare of approximately 200 Shan refugees living in northwest Thailand. The Shan are an ethnic group currently persecuted by the national government in Burma (Myanmar), which has banned the Shan language from all public institutions, engaged in systematic rape and torture of the Shan people, and captured many Shan as forced labor for the national army. To escape persecution, as many as half a million Shan have crossed the eastern border into Thailand. In building a well-educated, healthy, and economically robust Shan community, the BRP seeks to create the foundations for a future democratic Burma. Funding from the Martín-Baró Fund will allow the BRP to continue to provide year-round counseling, explore community concerns, provide educational support and supplementary children's programs, and help in accessing health and legal services. In the coming year, the BRP will also develop Shan cultural workshops and a peer educator system on reproductive health issues.

Boarding School Healing Project, South Dakota, USA

The Boarding School Healing Project, now in its second year of MBF funding, seeks to document and raise consciousness about abuses related to the abduction and forced enrollment of Native American children in boarding schools - abuses which continued well into the twentieth century and continue to affect tribal life today. The project reports that the process of documentation, involving extensive interviews with community elders who were forced to attend these schools, has been slower than expected due to the level of trauma experienced by survivors. However, they hope soon to complete the process on all reservations in South Dakota. The group also offers individual and group support on the reservations, as well as workshops and visits to the boarding schools. This past year they launched a grassroots campaign pressuring the United Nations to implement its resolution calling for a study of genocidal practices against indigenous peoples, including boarding schools. The campaign has allowed them to engage Native communities in human rights organizing, so that they can understand and shape these processes. In addition to continuing these programs, with this year's grant they plan to complete a toolkit for tribal communities seeking to pursue remedies through tribal court systems.

Center for Immigrant Families, New York City, NY, USA.

"I learned how to feel differently about myself and my community," reports a participant in one of the workshops run by the Center for Immigrant Families, "to feel proud of being an immigrant, and to feel how strong you have to be to be an immigrant here." In the past year C4IF has engaged in outreach to more women in the Lower Manhattan Valley neighborhood of New York City, resulting in an expansion of their membership as they continue to work towards the project's mission of promoting psychological well-being, health, development, and organizing for justice among low-income immigrant women of color. With this year's grant, C4IF will continue its outreach, and conduct four community-based workshops on Culture, Migration, and Community Organizing and Creating Community Literacy. They will also conduct a four-part leadership training program on community organizing and popular education for those who have previously participated in these workshops.

Centro Bartolomé de las Casas

The Fund once again renewed its support of Centro Bartolomé de las Casas, which works with local communities on economic, social, psychosocial and spiritual development. The Center reports that they have achieved their primary objective for 2005, which was to accompany the communities of Arcatao and Nueva Trinidad in exhumation processes. They have also begun legal negotiations and psychosocial accompaniment for the exhumation of remains in the riverbed of Río Sumpul, Chalatenango. The group's staff and volunteers consolidated local initiatives toward the recovery of historical memory in the north-west of Chalatenango, incorporating survivors as protagonists in local processes. They have been invited to Chile and Brazil to share their experiences at international assemblies on memory and mental health. With this year's grant, the Center hopes to continue and consolidate their work with a local group of survivors in the northeast zone and to provide psychosocial support to relatives and survivors of exhumations slated to occur in October to December, 2006.

Children's Rehabilitation Center, Quezon City, Philippines.

In the past year, the Children's Rehabilitation Center has extended its community-based psychosocial services in the areas of Eastern Visayas, Southern Tagalog, and Northern Luzon - areas affected by decades of conflict, poverty, economic displacement, and human rights violations. They also provided psychosocial, medical, nutritional, and educational assistance to twenty-one child political prisoners. The programs for children emphasized play therapy, arts, and cultural performance. CRC also offered training on the Children's Rights Framework to human rights workers in Luzon. In addition, they offered counseling for adults, and encouraged them to find alternative methods to challenge government policies of terror in their communities. This year's grant will allow CRC to continue their delivery of services to the displaced families from the Eastern Visayas region, as well as for the child political prisoners. In addition, the Center will continue its arts workshops for children, and its symposia on human rights issues.

Rwandan Women's Peace Leadership Project, Rwanda.

Working with Rwandan women, who suffered some of the most profound physical and psychological effects the country's 1994 genocide, Pro-Femmes, an umbrella group of 40 Rwandan organizations, has implemented a project to train staff members to become trainers in conflict resolution and reconciliation. Last year's grant from the Martín-Baró Fund to the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, a non-profit organization based in the United States, enabled the RWPLP to offer seminars including the use of inter-communal dialogue and other techniques for rebuilding community relations and promoting social healing. With this year's grant, the Karuna Center will be carrying out two additional phases of work with Pro-femmes. Phase I is the final workshop, to review and consolidate learning from the two-year training program, while Phase II is designed to meet the need for further mentoring, through hands-on coaching of trainees, followed by a meeting of all trainees to discuss the lessons learned, challenges they are encountering, and ways they can strengthen themselves as a group of peacebuilders, capable of providing ongoing mutual support.