The delegation strengthened our ties to the communities with projects we support. We saw the progress as well as the continuing need. We returned home inspired by the courageous men and women we met and with a strong commitment to raise funds for their projects. We have committed to support the following projects throughout the next year:

1) Women's Cooperatives in Francisco Gomez (aka La Garrucha)
Autonomous Regional Clinic in Francisco Gómez training of human rights promoters in independent peasant areas.
These economic cooperatives are designed to integrate indigenous women into the social and economic fabrics of this part of the Lacandón Jungle by teaching the skills necessary to operate a women-owned community store. The goal is for the women who have training and experience to reproduce those skills by training other women in new communities. Each store requires $500 in start-up funds. The long-term goal is to integrate all the women's stores with other community stores to create an alternative indigenous economy throughout the region.

A Woman's Cooperative Store in Garrucha

 

2) Human Rights Promoter Training - This program is sponsored by the Human Rights Coalition for the Ethnicities of Chiapas, with whom some of us have worked since 1994. The program is designed to train peasants from different communities in three regions of Chiapas on advocacy and mediation skills in defense of human rights. The goal is to have a trained promoter in each village if a situation arises where violence is threatened. Currently, a human rights advocate has to travel from one of the larger cities, often many hours (or even days) away. This is most needed in areas where land conflicts occur with frequency.