Projects Funded in 2013:

Médicos Descalzos

The Asociación Médicos Descalzos has worked to strengthened traditional health therapies since 1993 in twelve municipalities in the Guatemalan department of Quiché, including in the area of primary care, maternal and infant health, and mental health. With the grant from the Fund, the Asociación will strengthen the traditional practices of the Ajq'ijab', or the Mayan therapists, who continue to serve as the most culturally and economically accessible resource for the local indigenous population. Such practices include individual and psychosocial attention, family and community counseling, and conflict resolution.

The Asociación de Médicos Descalzos will engage in pedagogic and graphic-conceptual intervention regarding the six cultural psychopathologies that demand the most attention among the indigenous population in three concrete ways. Firstly, they will hold six intensive training seminars for twenty-four Ajq'ijab' to return to the twelve districts and train their colleagues in their respective districts. Subsequently, they will hold twelve workshops with the twenty-for Ajq'ijab' to assess the new training seminars, ideally reaching a total of 180 Ajq'ijab' and assuring that the replication of the original training will continue uninterrupted. Finally, the Asociación will hold six reunions of the Departmental Board of Ajq'ijab' to allow them to exchange ideas.

"The Awakening"

"The Awakening" envisions a progressive and sustainable society, wherein all people live peacefully and with dignity, enjoying social, political and economic equality as well as the right to livelihood, to freedom of expression, and to equal opportunity for public participation. "The Awakening" mission is to empower the poor, disabled and disenfranchised in rural regions of Pakistan. It employs rights-based, people-centered, grassroots and participatory methods to eliminate socio-economic inequality; promote health, nutrition and well-being; facilitate self-reliance, enable local self-governance, ensure natural resource management; and promote people's advocacy. "The Awakening" with a main focus on the rights of women will promote women's rights through a leadership conference for women leaders. Workshops are organized to educate various groups about the rights of women from the perspective of Islam, international and national laws and conventions and to encourage their role as agents of change in their communities. In the follow up leaders delivered lectures on women's rights including its violation in the form of SWARA after their participation in the workshops. After participating in the events of "The Awakening" media personnel will be prepared to cover women rights violation cases with greater attention. Through advocacy for the rights of people and social justice for the neglected segments of society including women, girls, youth and rural communities, "The Awakening" will continue to strengthen its networking with local and national humanitarian and rights-based organizations.


Last year, the "Live with Hope Foundation" successfully supported girls in the Kapchworwa District of Eastern Uganda who faced female genital mutilation, and introduced alternative income-producing projects for women cutters who have limited options for overcoming region-wide poverty. Building on these successes, this impressive organization is planning to expand its reach to the outlying District of Bukwo, which has even more limited resources and services than Kapchworwa. National laws sanctioning female genital mutilation have not been effective and Live with Hope, based on their past experience, believes that real change can only come from the bottom up - changing community attitudes and providing concrete options for alternative sources of income in areas where this traumatic practice is still prevalent. "Live with Hope" has demonstrated its ability to work directly with stake holders and the Martín-Baró Fund is pleased to partner with them again this year.

Women's Affairs Technical Committee
Ramallah, Palestine

The "Women's Affairs Technical Committee" is a coalition of women's organizations created around the time of the Oslo Peace Accords meetings in 1992. Their purpose was to insure that women's voices and concerns were included at all levels of Palestinian state building. The purpose of their work, supported by the Martín-Baró Fund, is to develop the talents of young men and women interested in using theater performance to raise awareness of critical issues facing Palestinian society. Their specific focus is on severe domestic violence, such as the killings of women, and its roots in the Israeli occupation, weak Palestinian laws, and Palestinian patriarchal culture. The project will train participants in the method of the Theater of the Oppressed and engage them in creating a play about murders of women. Performances will then be held in schools and universities with the intention of exposing this important issue to a wider audience and provide people the chance to speak out, express anger, and become engaged in efforts to change laws that fail to protect women, e.g. excusing 'honor' killings. The Martín-Baró Fund looks forward to the results of this challenging initiative.

Coperma: Communaute des Planteurs et Eleveurs dans la Region Marachaire
Democratic Republic of Congo

Last year, the Martín-Baró Fund supported COPERMA's multi-pronged project to help traumatized victims who were raped during the ongoing war in the BENI and the LUBERO territories of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project included training for outreach listeners, counseling sessions for victims of severe trauma, and vocational training for victims of rape and other violence that marginalizes girls and young women. 850 beneficiaries received help in 486 psychotherapy sessions in the first year. 540 individuals received instruction in soap making and 327 were trained in tailoring, including sewing machine repairs and maintenance. COPERMA estimates that the project to date has had positive results for 75% of those treated and/or trained in program. Importantly, many of those traumatized have been able to reintegrate into their local communities and improve their economic situations through the skills they have acquired in sewing and soap making. In addition, it has led to collaborative conversations with other groups in these territories. With continued funding for another year, COPERMA can expand its work to newly traumatized victims and continue addressing the needs of those yet to recover within the original population of beneficiaries.

Salvadoran Association of Torture Survivors (ASST)
El Salvador

In April 2013, ASST released a completed report long kept confidential containing the testimonies of victims of torture during El Salvador's 1980-1992 civil war. Lack of funding impeded publication of the report after the Salvadoran peace accords of 1992, but the Fund's assistance has helped make it possible. The report contains the accounts of 270 victims interviewed in 1986, in the midst of the civil war, by the non-governmental Human Rights Commission of El Salvador. The report has two aims: to further educate Salvadoran society, and those beyond, of the horrors of the torture carried out by paramilitary forces during the war to help ensure that such acts never happen again; and to use the compiled material to bring claims before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). In 2012, the IAHCR accepted a complaint by the Human Rights Institute of the Central American University, submitted on behalf of ASST members, covering four specific cases and accusing the current Funes administration of negligence in investigating torture cases. This past year, ASST conducted 15 workshops to help address the psychosocial needs of 30 torture survivors in El Salvador and showcased their exhibition "Torture: Never Again in El Salvador" throughout the country. The exhibition will be shown, and more psychosocial workshops realized, throughout the country this coming year with ASST's renewal grant from the Fund.

Asociación Centro de Educación y Formación Maya Ixil (ACEFOMI)
San Gaspar de Chajul, Guatemala

The Center for Mayan Ixil Education and Development extended its psychosocial and human rights workshops to four rural communities surrounding Chajul, developing training programs with and for between 25 and 30 women living in each village. They facilitated six workshops in each community. Topics included self-esteem and personal hygiene; mental health and nutrition; and, women's rights. This year the work included a session on child development through which women sought to better understand their children's school experiences. Individual family visits afforded an opportunity to observe women's applications of the training and work with them to develop family gardens for growing nutritional foods. ACEFOMI reported challenges in outreach to local youth. Fifty young women and men participated in a first series of workshops. They have developed a new strategy involving collaboration with local middle schools in hopes to attract greater participation. Topics for the upcoming year include sexual education and preventative health care; work, social responsibility and solidarity; environmental and land challenges; and the legacies of the armed conflict in the context of globalization and migration.

Action des Femmes a la Non-Violence
Democratic Republic of Congo

Action des Femmes a la Non-Violence (AFN) was established in 2008 to campaign against gender based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, seeking to end sexual violations of women and girls. Through education and self-sustaining economic programs, they support women's and girls' survival and capacity-building. They also organize advocacy campaigns bringing women together to denounce continuing abuse. The project funded by the Martín-Baró Fund seeks to break the culture of silence surrounding gender-based violence, working with approximately 80 women and girls who have survived several decades of armed conflict within and between the DRC and Burundi. Women and children, particularly young girls, are primary targets, suffering gender-based violence including rape and torture. The program is designed to respond to these violations through a trainer of the trainer model. The initial group of women from North and South Kivu will participate in women's workshops focused on: (1) women's human rights, (2) leadership, (3) advocacy skills, and (4) literacy. It is anticipated that through working together they will experience personal empowerment and enhanced self-esteem. They will then multiply the skills they have learned, toward building and strengthening women's coalitions towards demanding their rights and realizing gender equity.