Projects Funded in 2017:

Chiapas, Mexico

CEDCOT, the Center for Experimentation for Tzeltal Community Development, has worked for more than four years to support marginalized and indigenous communities in three municipalities in the state of Chiapas, Mexico: San Juan Cancuc, Chilón, and Sitalá. Their projects have focused on zoning and municipal autonomy, alternative solidarity economies, social and economic organization of women, human rights education, and organizational development.

Through last year’s project, “Promoting and Strengthening the Human Rights of Tzeltal Indigenous Women in Chilón and Sitalá, Chiapas,” CEDCOT offered the community tools to fight for gender equality, strengthen women's leadership, and create and consolidate organizational structures to support women’s individual and collective welfare. They facilitated a series of workshops for 40 indigenous women from four locations in the region focused on understanding human rights and exercising decision-making power in their family, community and municipality. They also hosted a meeting between the 40 women and local and municipal male leaders to increase the incorporation of women’s experiences into governance and policymaking, and to share findings and conclusions from the women’s workshops. They report that the workshops contributed to women’s creation of an educational space for themselves, the Indigenous Women's House, as well as to a more organized working group comprised of women participants from the four communities, Tseltal Women for Community Self-Management.

In 2017-18, the group proposes to continue their workshops and annual co-ed meetings, expanding them to encompass an additional 20 participants drawn from two new communities in the region. In total, they will engage 60 women from six communities. They hope to form an Indigenous Women's Network, and to hold an exchange between members of the participants’ six communities in recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.


El Salvador

COFAMIDE, the Committee for Families of Deceased and Disappeared Migrants, El Salvador, was founded and is led by family members of migrants who disappeared en route from El Salvador to the United States. Their mission is to provide psychosocial support and advocacy training to other families affected by El Salvador’s migration crisis, and to collectively advocate for recognition and aid from the Salvadoran government and the international community. Their membership includes 350 families, mostly headed by women, who have experienced the disappearance of a loved one and are bearing the psychological, social, and economic effects of this loss.

Last year, the group hosted a series of workshops where members received advocacy and legal training to learn about and to assert their rights, domestically and internationally, as relatives of disappeared persons. Additionally, they received training in coping with the emotional effects of the disappearance and gained psychosocial support from other members. The group’s leadership team, who are themselves survivors, also participated in these self-care workshops to sustain and strengthen the organization. The group initially projected that they would hold a total of 13 workshops; however, they exceeded this and were able to host 21 workshops.

In 2017-18, COFAMIDE plans to develop technical training for its member families focused on both the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and international treaties and laws regarding disappeared persons and their descendants to which El Salvador is a signatory. They will also continue to host workshops for member families on self-care and psychosocial assistance, including a focus on self-esteem and leadership development. Finally, members of the leadership team will accompany some member families in repatriating the remains of deceased family members who have been located and identified.



FAMDEGUA, the Association of Relatives of Detained-Disappeared of Guatemala, has over 22 years of experience supporting and accompanying members of Guatemala’s Mayan population who have been affected by regional poverty and migration, ongoing state violence, and the unresolved impact of the nation’s internal armed conflict that formally concluded in 1996. The group utilizes an alternative healing model that incorporates features of the Mayan cosmovision, herbal medicine, and political advocacy.

Last year, the group worked to support the families of individuals forcibly disappeared during the armed conflict as they continue to heal from the political, economic, social, and cultural violence of this experience and seek justice and formal recognition for their losses. Many of the family members are women who also experienced sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict. The program was thus aimed at female relatives of the disappeared and provided 12 workshops on trauma and violence in the departments of Alta and Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. 

The workshops aimed to foster a climate of confidence, solidarity, and cooperation between the women as relatives of victims of enforced disappearance, as well as psychosocial support for them as they engage formally in Guatemala’s transitional justice processes and movements for truth and remembrance of the disappeared. The program coordinators observed these positive effects as well as growing trust between the participants and the departments’ public prosecutor and other Public Ministry staff who oversee many of the cases that pursue those responsible for crimes committed during the armed conflict.

In 2017-18, the group plans to continue these workshops and expand them to include participants from the municipality of Panzós in Alta Verapaz. They will also deepen their work to address participants’ experiences of sexual violence during the armed conflict, by 1) providing more focused psychosocial support and human rights education around this issue, 2) collecting testimonies and socializing patterns across women’s experiences, and 3) holding more dialogue and trust-building meetings with staff from the Public Ministry.


Proyecto Buena Semilla

For a period of three years, Proyecto Buena Semilla (the Good Seed Project, in English) has been dedicated to empowering women in Mayan communities in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Through entrepreneurial activities, problem-based therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and art-based activities, the women learn to face the hardships of child pregnancy, domestic violence, and other restrictions to their economic participation given the marginalized conditions of their communities.

The project was awarded a second year of funding from the Martín-Baró Fund to continue the series of workshops and psychological activities circles that focus on women's leadership development and mental and maternal health. For 2017, the project was able to compensate 12 women leaders for their facilitation of Women’s Circles in their communities. They created spaces of encounter and dialogue where marginalized, indigenous women engaged in problem-solving therapy and empowered themselves to become agents of change in their lives and communities.

Proyecto Buena Semilla plans to extend their workshops to the women of San Juan Ostuncalco, a community that is currently not supported with funding. The project also plans to continue to support the Women’s Circle workshops in Quetzaltenango, the original site of the project, and strengthen the activities offered by providing further training and stipends for the leaders. Lastly, they hope to organize site visits around the community to foster knowledge transfer and exchanges between individuals who have been leaders of Women’s Circles since 2014 to the individuals assuming leadership in Cuilco, Huehuetenango.

Project Hajra
Queens, New York

Project Hajra is in their third and final year of funding from the Martín-Baró Fund. Over the last several years, the organization’s main project has been its Community Safety Initiative. This work is based on deepening the communities’ understanding that interpersonal violence and gender injustice within the community are linked to the marginal status of Muslims in society. The project organizes meetings and leads discussions about the multiple forms of domestic, community, gendered, economic, and state-sponsored violence.

Project Hajra continued to support the AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian) communities centered around Queens, NYC, They hosted weekly and bi-weekly workshops and discussions centered around the causes of violence and oppression within these communities. The gatherings also focused on enhancing the community members’ knowledge and strategies for organizing radical, grassroots spaces to heal in the face of threats of state-sponsored eradication.

With a final year of funding, Project Hajra will continue to collaborate with the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance to host training sessions related to worker’s justice and strategies for negotiations with employers. They will continue to collaborate with Chhava, a group that focuses on resisting gentrification and supporting local efforts for community housing justice. Both collaborative projects aim to inform local communities of their rights and of the support that Project Hajra offers. Project Hajra will continue to focus on facilitating community conversations and workshops centered around unpaid labor, domestic workers and mobilizing families according to the community’ needs.


Mobile Expressive Therapies Program

With a third year of funding from the Martín-Baró Fund, the Mobile Expressive Therapies Program will continue to provide support towards psychosocial wellbeing to children, adolescents, parents, teachers, and volunteers in the West Bank. Such individuals continue to experience fear, isolation, and multiple other challenges of living under Israeli occupation. Through providing art-based therapy as well as teaching individuals about the multiple psychosocial effects of living under constant threat, the program has succeeded in enhancing local communities’ resources for coping with stress and anxiety.

During the previous year, the Mobile Expressive Therapies Program worked in Bedouin villages, which are among the most impoverished, marginalized, and neglected Palestinian communities. The program provided expressive art therapy training sessions and workshops in different locations around the villages including in kindergartens and in tents. In total, approximately 140 children, 4 teachers and 11 volunteers received the program’s services. The program also collaborated with 12 women from Kufu-Aqab, Ramallah, and the Qalandiya Refugee camp. Some of these women are widows, some have children with disabilities, and some have lost children in clashes with the Israeli military.

Finally, the program worked with 12- and 13-year old students in the UN school in the Qalandiy refugee camp. Some of these young teenagers have been identified as being hyperactive or as having learning difficulties, while others were recently released after spending a year in an Israeli prison. Since 2015, the program has reached communities located in remote villages and underserved refugee camps. In 2017 they will continue to help individuals, especially children, prioritizing those who are challenged by emotional, behavioral, and/or learning difficulties through art-based therapy.


Freedom Summer Palestine

For the past three years, Freedom Summer Palestine has offered a range of educational activities and workshops designed to enhance the creativity and leadership of youth within the Aida refugee camp in the West Bank, north of Bethlehem. Artistic and cultural training includes photography, music, dance, theater and creative writing through which youth analyze and represent their experiences of separation due to the wall. Workshops focus on facilitating youth’s expressivity and creativity through which they can better support themselves and others in the community in their activist campaigns of resistance.

The funds from the Martín-Baró Fund were used to provide training to individuals in art therapy, human rights, and advocacy, as well as to provide refreshments for community events and transportation to and from events. Through workshops and advocacy, Freedom Summer contributes to youth’s enhanced engagement within the Palestinian community and evokes for some the Freedom Summer Civil Rights projects in the U.S. more than 50 years ago.