When asked by her grandchildren why she goes to so many meetings, Anita C. responds “I’m going to these meetings so your life can be better than mine.”
Of Maya Chorti background, living in Honduras, Anita’s family didn’t own the land they lived on when she was growing up. “I lived in a house made of garbage,” she says. “When my father stopped working, we were thrown off our land.” When she was 12 years old, her parents married her to a 35-year-old man. Her husband disappeared for 12 years and Anita struggled to feed her children, with only breastmilk and oatmeal mush available. Her father had been murdered for not filling his quota collecting firewood and there was no support for Anita. When her husband finally returned, she didn’t know she had a choice to turn him away.
In the 1990s, a man came to the town of Nueva Esperanza and said to community members: “You have to get out of this slavery.” Anita heard about the work that was being done and started to participate in community meetings. Now Anita is one of the leaders at CONCHI, an organization that works to help the Maya Chorti, primarily women, understand their rights.
Daniel Bagueri is a Cuso International volunteer working with Anita and other members of CONCHI. With a background in Indigenous Community Development, Daniel has a passion for his work. He is a Community Development Advisor with Organismo Cristiano de Desarrollo Integral de Honduras, which offers support to small organizations like CONCHI. Together, Daniel, Anita and others examine how members of the community, especially women, can have more opportunities to grow food and earn money and continue the efforts on Maya Chorti land claims. “We want human rights education and education for our children,” says Anita. She wants her 20 grandchildren to be able to continue their studies long past the 6th grade they have access to now.
While there are still a lot of challenges for the women of CONCHI, Anita is proud of what they have achieved. “I carry a book of rights with me everywhere,” she says. “My rights have been violated for so long, I want to teach other women their rights.”
There are so many barriers to women’s rights and safety in Honduras. All too often, they are trapped in their homes, silenced, abused and denied education or economic opportunities. You can empower women like Anita with the knowledge and skills to overcome these obstacles by making a gift to Cuso International today. Your donation will be leveraged to make ten times the impact.