Projects Funded in 2010:

Peshawar, Pakistan

The Ignacio Martín-Baró Fund is pleased to work with Aware Girls, a Pakistan-based organization dedicated to empowering women and girls. Aware Girls is based in Swat district, in the North West Frontier Province. Swat, once a popular tourist destination and known as the ‘Switzerland of Pakistan,’ was captured by the Taliban in 2008. Even though Swat is now under the control of the Pakistan government, survivors, both in camps for internally displaced people and across the district, continue to suffer from the after-effects of trauma.

Aware Girls is a membership organization that promotes and protects the rights of young women by enabling equal access to social services, financial resources and decision making processes. The organization plans to use the grant to develop a manual on trauma and torture treatment and train 10 local counselors to engage with women and children victims of trauma and promote emotional recovery, community dialogue, and healing through creative expression. This will help begin a process of renewal for these victims with the support of their families and communities.

Proyecto de Salud Mental Comunitaria y Acompañamiento Psicosocial (PSMCAP)
Chiapas, México

In the last five years, the Community Mental Health and Psychosocial Accompaniment (PSMCAP) network in Northern Chiapas has learned to better understand and work with various aspects of mental health through capacity building courses facilitated by experts on the theme.

A course called “Mental Health and Community Strength” was offered in 2009 and will be offered again in 2010 to review themes already covered and to introduce an understanding and support mechanism for those who experience emotional stress and mental illness.

Additionally, community health promoters have led leadership development workshops in various municipalities where topics covered included alcoholism, domestic violence and emotional stress. The training is offered in a course/school format to allow participants to learn from the teacher by observing their work. The biggest challenge in recent months has been the persecutions carried out by paramilitary groups in the region who act with total impunity. In addition, state police have conducted violent dislocations of the population that lives on the border of the biosphere reserve of the Blue Mountains.

Rural Missionaries of the Philippines- Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR)
Iligan City, Philippines

The US has sustained interests in the Philippines, first through decades of occupation in the first half of the 20th century and since then through economic and military interests. These include agri-corporations, mining firms, and policies and practices that contribute to the extreme poverty in which 90% of the Filipino people live today.

Therefore, the Martin-Baró Fund will support the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in its efforts to respond to some of these realities through the development of a Healing the Hurt project. This project seeks to: (a) create a psychosocial team that will involve grassroots organizations in responding to human rights violation-related mental health issues; (b) launch advocacy and networking activities that will lead to the creation of support groups for the psychosocial needs of rural, poor human rights defenders under attack, their immediate families and communities, and women and children victims of militarization and displacement; and (c) provide psychosocial services with a particular focus on individual human rights defenders under attack, including their immediate families, and hold psychosocial missions in communities wreaked by militarization, war, and displacement that will primarily benefit women and children.

Sustainable Alternatives for the Advancement of Mindanao (SALAM, Inc.)
Mindanao, Philippines

(SALAM Inc.), seeks to improve the socio-cultural, psychosocial welfare of victims of institutional violence against women and children in Mindanao. The organization addresses the needs of communities that have expressed a serious need for emotional recovery and trauma healing through counseling, direct health care services, preventive community-based health care interventions, community based livelihood initiatives, and community peace dialogues.

The Martín-Baró Fund grant will support these activities and the costs of training and support staff.

Women Asylum Seekers Together- Manchester (WAST)
Manchester, England UK

Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST), located in Manchester, England is an organization that provides a safe and supportive environment for women who are in various stages of the asylum process. These women (from countries including Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Russia, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Sudan, and Zimbabwe) experienced gender-based violence in various forms in their home countries..

WAST is managed and run by a group of asylum seeker women drawn from the organization’s membership base. The organization offers six-hour support group meetings every Friday where these women can gather, share experiences and knowledge, and empower each other. WAST also provides lunch and bus fares for those unable to pay for their travel expenses. WAST enables women asylum seekers to overcome their helplessness and isolation, to learn from each other, and empowers them to promote their own and others’ basic human rights. The grant from the Martín-Baró Fund will allow WAST to continue to expand their work and enhance psychosocial resources for the support groups for women seeking asylum.