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Letters from Our Sisters

Posted on: Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keywords: Sudan, Kenya, Nicaragua, Guatemala

 Photo Credit: MADRE 

 MADRE connects you to the women of our sister organizations in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, and we connect our sisters to one another. Here are just a few ways you’ve helped make that happen this year.

Letters

From Fatima in Sudan to Womankind Kenya

From Rose in Nicaragua to Lucy in Kenya

From Henry in New York to MADRE

From Pauline in Luxembourg to Betty in Guatemala

From Sue in California to Betty in Guatemala 

As famine struck East Africa, our partners at Womankind Kenya mobilized to provide emergency food and water to refugees. Meanwhile, the members of theWomen Farmers Union in Sudan, founded by our sister organization Zenab for Women in Development, knew they had to do something.

To Our Sisters at Womankind Kenya,

We stand with you in this time of tragedy and hardship. As women farmers of Sudan, we know what it is like to wait months for rain and to watch our children grow hungry. Every year, when we plant our crops, our families depend on us. Without rain, we have no harvest – we have nothing.

We made our Women Farmers Union so that we could support each other. Before that, the government did not recognize women farmers and gave tools, seeds and training only to the men. So we came together to share our resources and to demand that the government respect our rights.

In eastern Sudan where we live, farming has always been part of our lives. But recently, the droughts have gotten worse, and they come more often. We had to adapt how we farm. This is because of climate change, a danger created mainly by those in the rich countries. 

Our friends at MADRE have helped us through the years, when the harvests have been good and also when the rains failed to come. They told us how refugee women and families are fleeing Somalia to Kenya. They told us that what you need are the resources to buy emergency food and water to help them live.

And so we are sending you the money that we saved after our last harvest. Usually, we use these savings to improve our communities. Last year, we put a roof on the local school. But this year, your needs are greater than ours. We are able to send you this money because we joined together as women farmers and made ourselves stronger. We hope you will be able to use this gift to feed your children and strengthen yourselves as women. 

We send this to you with our blessings. As mothers and as farmers, the future depends on us.

In solidarity,

Fatima Ahmed, Director of Zenab for Women in Development & The Women Farmers Union
Sudan
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c. MADRE
 Photo Credit: Henry Chalfant

Our recent trip to Kenya brought so many of our friends together. Rose Cunningham of our Nicaraguan sister organization Wangki Tangni joined with Lucy Mulenkei of the Indigenous Information Network to lead human rights trainings with Indigenous women. Longtime supporter Henry Chalfant documented the trip in photos and videos. 

Dear Lucy

I am back in Nicaragua and thinking a lot about everything I learned when I visited you in Kenya. 

Indigenous women in Nicaragua and Kenya may live far apart, but we are close in our hearts. We fight in the same struggles. We may be denied the right to clean water, to our land or to a voice in policies that affect us—but we never stop working to make change.

One of the things I am always thinking about is exchange. It is so important to share information and experiences among Indigenous women around the world. Often I see that Indigenous women know quite a bit, but they don’t believe they know it. But once we start to discover and reveal all that we know, we can achieve great successes.

Thank you again, Lucy. When put our hands together, we become stronger. Thank you for strengthening Indigenous women in Kenya and worldwide.
 
With love, 

Rose
Back to Letters 
 
Dear Yifat,

I looked forward to the visit to Kenya with confidence that I would come away with new knowledge and with some measure of hope that, in spite of our current seemingly insurmountable difficulties, it might still be possible to change some things for the better. I was not disappointed.

MADRE approaches this work with great sensitivity, careful to follow the initiative of local women. You partner with women who have seen the possibility for a more fulfilling life for themselves and their families. You work to help them implement reforms and in their struggle for their rights.

Thank you,
Henry
Back to Letters        
Photo Credit: Bradley Parker 
 
Nearly 5,000 Guatemalan women have been raped and murdered in a decade-long wave of killings. Betty Gonzalez of our sister organization in Guatemala City lives with this horror. Two years ago, her 17-year-old daughter Rosemary was murdered. Our partners at the Women Workers’ Committee rallied around Betty, joined by MADRE members who asked us to relay their messages of support.
 

Dear Betty,

I am very moved by your story. You need and deserve justice for your daughter, and I admire your strength and perseverance in getting it. I hope that one day you find peace and can feel a ray of light in your heart when you think of your lovely daughter.

There are people all over the world thinking of you, who share your pain and want justice for Rosemary. I am going to show your photo to my daughters, who are half Guatemalan, so that they can see the strength that Guatemalan women have and feel proud of being Guatemalan.

Pauline Kranendonk
Mother of Nympha and Mayari
Pietershoek, Luxembourg

Back to Letters 

 

Dear Betty,

I am thinking of you, in the loss of your daughter Rosemary, the violence and the pain of missing her presence in your daily life. Even though I am very far from Guatemala in miles, I am by your side in spirit. I give you my support from the bottom of my soul so that you will have success in your fight for justice. You are an inspiration for the world.

A warm embrace,

Sue Greene
Lompoc, California

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