Projects Funded in 2014:

Médicos Descalzos

The Asociación Médicos Descalzos works to strengthen traditional health and mental health resources in twelve municipalities in the Guatemalan department of El Quiché. Previous grants from the Fund enabled the group to publish a groundbreaking book Yab'il Xane K'oqil: Enfermedades o Consecuencias?, a comparative exploration of traditional concepts of illness and health and some within Western psychiatry and psychology. Since then they have strengthened training and education of the Ajq'ijab', or Mayan traditional healers, who serve as culturally and economically accessible resources for rural indigenous communities. In 2013, with support from the Martín-Baró Fund, they publishedthe first of six popular education resources, graphic-conceptual booklets designed to renew traditional cultural understandings and practices among local populations. The first publication, Q'ij Alaxik, focuses on an illness whose manifestations include states of dissatisfaction often accompanied by physical and emotional illness and/or a sense of personal failure. These states are traced to a failure to recognize and appreciate one's vocation and/or personal talents, gifts related to one's Nawal, that is one's Mayan spirit or totem. These educational resources are designed to reconnect Maya and introduce ladinos to these longstanding sources of traditional knowledge towards mobilizing preventative mental health care and psychosocial well-being.

"The Awakening"

The Awakening pioneered the first Women Council in Pakistan. The women are now successfully taking part in counseling and mediation processes and fighting for their rights. The group successfully organized the mohallah peace committees and mothers, lady teachers, and councilors are being trained in skills including peacemaking, trauma counseling, conflict management, and conflict resolution. These groups provide counseling to survivors suffering from trauma while working in their professional contexts to further disseminate the knowledge that they have gained from this project.

For the first time in the history of District Swat, women from religious minorities were included in the mohallah peace committee and were members of the organization's general body. Further, the grant from the Martín-BaróFund supports the transgendered community of District Swat, one of the most vulnerable communities which suffers great hardships during the armed conflict.

With its renewed funding, The Awakening will establish a friendly space for the depressed, traumatized people of District Swat with the main objective to protect the victims of fear and trauma by providing psychosocial support, medical aid and recreational, educational and structured leisure activities that will provide the victims with life skills to protect themselves through their own and the Council's ongoing advocacy efforts.


With past support from the Martín-Baró Fund, Live with Hope has mounted successful programs of education, public advocacy, and economic support to address female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence for two districts in northern Uganda. Last year, residents of a third community, Amudat, attended public forums organized in the target area of the Bukwo District and requested similar support for their region. According to a recent UN Population Fund survey, Amudat District ranks third in the country in the violation of and women's and girl's rights. Confident in Live with Hope's demonstrated ability to support girls who have been subjected to FGM and create economic alternatives for women cutters, the Martín-Baró Fund is pleased to provide a third year of support to this organization to extend its reach to the Amudat District. In addition to direct support to girls and cutters, Live with Hope will mobilize community members and public service providers to lobby the government of Uganda to extend social services to remote, mountainous areas like Amudat. And for the first time, Live with Hope will develop training and sensitization meetings for men about domestic violence and also address the high rates of male unemployment and alcoholism.

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

For the last two years the Martín-Baró Fund has supported COPERMA in a community-based project to help survivors of rape and other war-related violence in the North Kivu Province in the eastern region of the DRC. In response to the trauma suffered and disruption of livelihoods caused, the project has conducted a range of psychotherapy sessions as well as providing vocational training. Psychotherapy work included listening sessions and individual and group counseling sessions that benefited approximately 850 victims. In its vocational training program last year, 228 received training in bread-making, 327 were trained in tailoring and 540 were trained in soap-making.

The MBF Committee has approved COPERMA's request for a third year of funding. Violence in the DRC, particularly in the eastern region, presents mounting challenges for communities in the region. COPERMA remains poised to continue its efforts to address the needs of these traumatized communities. Recognizing the importance of mental health in the overall healing process, COPERMA will continue its psychosocial efforts through counseling sessions and family sensitization and education for rape victims, as well as for demobilized child-soldiers, orphans, and other displaced persons. Its work in vocational training will include distribution of kits to enable trainees in soap-making, tailoring and bread-making to reintegrate successfully into their own communities.


Nomadesc has worked since April 2000 to address poverty, trauma, and hopelessness brought on by the Triana massacre in El Valle de Cauca, Colombia. With a continued military presence and a deep feeling of injustice in the region, Nomadesc, through the "Las Mujeres de Triana" project, seeks not only to repair, but also to re-establish these lost rights. The Martín-Baró Fund will assist the community to develop and establish practices to repair the psychological, socio-cultural and financial damage.

The "Mujeres de Triana" encourages the community to reflect on how armed conflict, kidnappings, and reliving of the trauma in the territory impact the lives of victims. Nomadesc will provide training workshops to gain practical and theoretical tools to aid and strengthen the recovery of historic memory, so that this knowledge can be passed on and can, subsequently, unify the community. Through symbolic acts, social demonstrations and the creation of "la casa de la memoria", they aim to create a symbolic and physical space to commemorate their losses and pay tribute to the massacre's victims and their families.

With the help of the Martín-Baró Fund, this project will not only reduce the psychological and physical symptoms of institutional trauma, but also, strengthen the memory and the collective power of the community to demand justice for all and repair human rights.

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

The Center for Mayan Ixil Education and Development has continued to facilitate psychosocial and human rights workshops with women in the town of Chajul and in surrounding villages, extending psychosocial education with and for 25 and 30 women living in each of four villages. Workshop topics included self-esteem and personal hygiene; mental health and nutrition; women's right; and recovery of memories of the armed conflict. Individual family visits by workshop facilitators afford an opportunity to observe women's applications of the training and work with them to sustain family gardens for growing nutritional foods.

A goal over the past two years has been to extend this work to local youth in Chajul. ACEFOMI has recognized the need to educate youth leadership who can then take more responsibility for initiating work among their peers. They have identified a small group of youth who, with school principals' approval, will work with ACEFOMI staff to survey all the middle and high schools in Chajul to discern which among a series of possible topics are of most interest to youth. Potential themes include: sexual education and preventative health care; self-esteem; work, social responsibility and solidarity; environmental and land challenges; and the legacies of the armed conflict in the context of globalization and migration. They have contracted with municipal leaders to collaborate in a series of town-wide presentations for youth and anticipate three such community-wide events during 2014. These will be followed by smaller workshops designed to strengthen youth leadership in Chajul towards establishing ongoing youth work in the community.

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

Action des Femmes a la Non-Violence (AFN) is a grassroots organization in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, founded in 2008 by women and girls who came together as one to campaign for the abolition of the ongoing gender-based abuse, sexual harassment, torture, and sexual violence against women. With their grant from the Martín-Baró Fund last year, AFN conducted a training of trainers for 21 women to mentor and coach women and young girls to actively participate in the decision-making processes that affect their lives in home, family, workplace, and community settings. About 280 women and girls have since been trained as an extension of these trainings. From this, women have identified two primary concerns for their community: the high rate of child mortality in Kazimia hospital due lack of pediatric beds; and absolute poverty and unemployment. To this end, the community has already begun a project to make 100,000 bricks to expand the hospital and started to clear a road to adjacent towns to help gain access to markets for their agricultural goods, expanding economic opportunity, though they cite a need for access to more raw materials to help finish the projects. With the new grant from the Martín-Baró Fund this year, AFN will expand the trainings into South and North Kivu provinces to further build women's leadership capacities and mount advocacy campaigns against gender-based abuses.