Projects Funded in 2008:

This year the Ignacio Martín-Baró Fund provided renewed support to six groups that we have supported previously. Each of these grassroots organizations addresses the human rights and mental health challenges faced by their communities, and most strive not only to address basic needs but to transform the underlying causes of the structural injustices faced by residents.

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

ACEFOMI works with youth and women in contexts of extreme poverty, in communities resettled on the sites of massacres, or villages burned to the ground during the more than thirty-six years of civil war. ACEFOMI has a new mental health promoter who will be training facilitators selected by participants in past mental health workshops in villages surrounding Chajul. Once trained, the leaders will facilitate workshops with other women in the community, focusing on mental health and human rights as well as on helping women to analyze and better understand the social realities that contributed to the armed conflict. As importantly, they will explore the psychological effects of war and extreme poverty on themselves and others in the community,identify their rights as indigenous women, and develop programs to minimize risks affecting youth and women. The grant will also allow ACEFOMI to develop popular education materials to be used in these village-level workshops.

The Burmese Refugee Project, Thailand.

he Burmese Refugee Project works with ethnic Shan refugees who have fled into Thailand to escape persecution by the Burmese military junta. Unable to obtain official refugee status in Thailand, they are marginalized and persecuted, and have few prospects for employment, healthcare, or education The BRP has had remarkable success in mobilizing and organizing the community around sanitation and public health conditions and literacy. Most of the children have overcome great obstacles to attend school, and many are now excelling. A 2008 grant from the Fund will support a new initiative to increase culture-specific components essential to maintaining community cohesiveness and confronting growing substance abuse, problem gambling, teen pregnancy, and low self-esteem among children. Believing that cultural disconnection is a significant component of mental health problems appearing in the refugee community, BRP will incorporate a respected Shan refugee monk as a core member of the BRP. He will offer Shan culture-based workshops for the children and community-building activities for families, as well as working with the existing Thai staff to increase their awareness of and sensitivity to Shan cultural issues. The BRP will also train two peer educators from the community to work with young people, particularly on reproductive health issues.

Center for Immigrant Families, New York, NY, United States.

The CIF is a popular education-based community organizing, education, and training center addressing the interconnected challenges facing low-income immigrant women of color. MBF funds will continue to support the Escuela Popular de Mujeres (Women's Popular Education Program) which has helped women break the silence and begin to combat workplace abuses, domestic violence, and other human rights violations. Its English Literacy Project, is a free, 9-week program, with free childcare, that attempts to respond to women's expressed needs for English language skills while also empowering them through a popular education approach, and building leadership skills among participants. Women emerge from these sessions more united and with enhanced self-confidence in their self-expression and ability to take action in the face of challenges. The 2008 grant will help CIF strengthen its internal structure and enhance its capacity to sustain its programs while meeting its organizational goals and objectives.

Centro Bartolomé de las Casas, San Salvador, El Salvador.

The CBC works with local communities on economic, social, psychosocial, and spiritual development. In 2007 they inaugurated the Museo de la Memoria (Museum of the Memory), based on the booklet "Cuarenta Días con la Memoria: Memoria Sobreviviente de Arcatao" (Forty Days with the Memory: Survival Memory of Arcatao) and other testimonial materials. They also accompanied communities in the northeast region during exhumations. Organizers reported being particularly gratified by the extensive youth participation in these inter-generational projects. With its 2008 grant, CBC will continue this work with survivors in the communities of Arcatao and Nueva Trinidad, in collaboration with a forensic anthropological team from Guatemala. It will also continue to provide psychosocial support to relatives and survivors of the exhumations, and plans to extend its work in new directions, creating actions at the local, municipal, and national levels demonstrating its work with survivors to justice authorities, landowners, and other committees.

Children's Rehabilitation Center, Quezon City, Philippines.

The CRC is one of the few organizations in the Philippines devoted to the care of child victims of human rights violations. There have recently been troubling reports of the arrest and detention of so-called child soldiers. However, investigation reveals that in some cases children have simply been rounded up from communities associated with the New People's Army (considered a terrorist organization by the U.S.) rather than being captured while engaged in combat. The children's detention is intended to force the surrender of parents accused of involvement with revolutionary groups. This year's grant will enable the CRC to conduct fact-finding missions, visit children jailed for alleged political offenses, provide immediate medical and psycho-social support where needed, and prepare for "Children for Peace: Joining Hearts and Hands," a peace festival for children to share their experiences and advocate publicly on behalf of their common struggles.

Proyecto de Salud Mental Comunitaria y Acompañamiento Psicosocial, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, México.

The Proyecto has been training indigenous, community-based health promoters in community mental health, psychosocial support and accompaniment, and detecting and addressing human rights violations. Their workshops have focused on understanding low-intensity warfare, crisis intervention, tools for responding to government attacks, and addressing alcoholism and domestic violence. Our 2008 grant will support the Proyecto in reinforcing the training in community mental health promotion begun in the first year, as well as enabling promoters to extend the work through analyzing threats to local communities' security and developing resources for preventing harassment of local residents by paramilitaries. They will also continue to provide psychosocial accompaniment to indigenous communities in the area who are most targeted by paramilitary groups.