Projects Funded in 2009:

During 2008, the Ignacio Martín-Baró Fund deepened its relationships with ongoing projects, and this year has renewed its support for the six listed here. These relatively long-time partners continue to do strong work despite economic downturns and continued violence in many of their communities. However, the fund continues to receive requests for support from worthy organizations all over the world and, as we celebrate our anniversary this fall, we're happy to announce that we will be extending funding to new groups in 2010.

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

The Fund this year will continue to support the Center for Mayan Ixil Education and Development, enabling ACEFOMI to continue its psychosocial and human rights work in rural villages surrounding Chajul. Many living in these villages have returned from exile and resettled on the sites of massacres, or of villages that were burned to the ground during Guatemala's thirty-six year civil war. With support from ACEFOMI, women from five of ten indigenous communities have organized themselves into women's groups offering participatory workshops for women and youth in their communities. Through workshop trainings local communities develop resources and skills for addressing their many psychological and social problems. ACEFOMI's workshops help them better understand the social realities that contributed to the armed conflict and the continuing violation of their rights as Maya women. Our grant will also allow ACEFOMI to disseminate popular education materials developed last year and help village-level group facilitators incorporate the materials into their work.

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.

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

We are continuing our support of CIF and its "Escuela Popular de Mujeres" (Women's Popular Education Program), built on an understanding of the transformational and healing power that sharing personal stories has for individuals and communities. One of the Escuela's key projects is the Women Creating Community English Literacy Project. Rooted in popular education and participatory action research, this English literacy project makes the lives, stories, and challenges of low-income immigrant women visible and helps participants develop the skills to address the root causes of their oppression. With continued funding, the Escuela will extend its outreach, engage in comprehensive curriculum and resource development, launch a media and arts project expressing participants' visions for a just world, and implement a series of popular education and community organizing trainings to develop and expand new leadership.

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

The CBC works with local communities on issues of human rights and economic, social, psychosocial, and spiritual development. This past year, members visited Boston to participate in the Fund's Bowlathon, and had the opportunity to share firsthand reports on their project activities with members of the Fund. The focus for 2008 were the continuation of CBC's Programa de Salud Mental y Memoria Sobreviviente (Mental Health and Living Memory Program), and establishing solid contacts with representatives in six communities. The group reported that youth volunteers continue to be actively involved in community activities, and that family members of the victims of the conflict also continued their active participation in exhumations. With its 2009 grant, CBC will continue work with survivors in affected communities, accompanying families in Arcatao in the exhumation process and in developing and giving public testimonials - powerful and vital experiences for the community healing process.

Children's Rehabilitation Center, Quezon City, Philippines.

One of the few organizations in the Philippines devoted to caring for child victims of human rights violations, CRC's well established program includes assessment of needs, psychosocial interventions, and child-led public education and advocacy. This year's grant renewal will be used to create an outreach program in the Ilocos Region, northern Philippines, which is experiencing a significant increase in counter-insurgency violence including extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, harassment and forcible evacuations. In each case children as well as adults suffer immensely. CRC's outreach in the Ilocos Region outreach will involve setting up a new office, training local staff and volunteers, data gathering and case finding, and implementation of rehabilitation services. In addition, the center will mobilize child victims and their families to address members of the local Commission on Human Rights and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

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

Indigenous communities in the state of Chiapas are extremely marginalized, and in 1994 formed the political group EZLN to address their poverty and oppression. Rather than respond to the political demands of the EZLN and other indigenous groups, the Mexican government is engaging in low-intensity warfare through paramilitary groups. To address the consequences of this violence, the Proyecto de Salud Mental Comunitaria y Acompañamiento Psicosocial (Community Mental Health and Psychosocial Accompaniment Project) is training indigenous, community-based health promoters in community mental health, psychosocial support and accompaniment, and addressing human rights violations. Workshops focus on understanding low-intensity warfare, crisis intervention, responding to government attacks, and addressing alcoholism and domestic violence. This year's grant will enable promoters to extend their work by analyzing threats to community security and developing resources to prevent harassment of local residents by paramilitaries. They will also continue to provide psychosocial accompaniment to the indigenous communities most targeted by paramilitary groups.