Success Stories from Our Sisters
Read the stories below to learn more about the achievements of our sisters worldwide.
Malya Villard-Appolon is the co-founder of MADRE's partner organization in Haiti, KOFAVIV.
KOFAVIV works to confront sexual violence and exploitation in Haiti, while providing rape survivors with social and psychological support and vital health services.
Malya's commitment to women’s empowerment is rooted in the steps she took to convert her own pain into healing. She survived brutal rape during Haiti’s years of political violence. She met many women who shared frighteningly similar stories.
But these women shared more than stories of suffering. Together, they were resilient, bold and fiercely committed to upholding women's rights. So Malya decided to set up an organization to address the medical and psychological needs of rape survivors.
In 2004, Malya helped found KOFAVIV. The organization advocates for survivors of rape, provides urgent care and helps women rebuild their lives. Malya has offered her shoulder for thousands of women to lean on. And KOFAVIV is recognized, within Haiti and around the world, as one of the leading women’s human rights organizations addressing sexual violence.
Ana Ceto Chavez has never listened to those who tell her what she can’t do.
Growing up as an Indigenous Mayan woman in northern Guatemala, she was caught up in a brutal civil war. Ana and her family became refugees in their own country, forced to flee their homes because of the violence.
Ana was determined to be educated. She put herself through university by working as a maid for a wealthy family in Guatemala City. Her schoolmates jeered at her for showing up to class dressed in her colorful Indigenous clothing. They doubted her right to be there, but she never did.
At the age of 23, Ana founded Muixil, a grassroots organization of Mayan women working together to promote the health, well-being and rights of their families and communities. Together with MADRE, they set up small chicken farms to combat hunger and poverty. They organized trainings to learn about their right to vote and to participate in politics. Ana’s leadership has propelled this vital work.
Today, Ana is 34 years old. She has three small children: two boys and the youngest, an 18-month-old daughter. And she still finds time to keep Muixil going strong. The organization Ana helped create—and that MADRE members support—is a crucial source of support for Indigenous women in Guatemala.
“It's a very simple story, really: I was overwhelmed by the need for intiqam (needing to act to correct an injustice). My friends and I came together after the US invasion and found a room in a bank in Baghdad that had been abandoned after an explosion. There, I hung up the organization's sign.” - Yanar Mohammed, founder of the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq
For years, Yanar Mohammed has defended women’s human rights in the face of war, religious extremism and the US military occupation. With courage and dedication, she has overcome the obstacles of violence and chaos to create new opportunities for women in Iraq.
Born and raised in Baghdad, Yanar founded the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) after witnessing the devastating consequences of the 2003 US military invasion. With MADRE support, OWFI combats violence against women in Iraq, running a network of women’s shelters to provide an escape route to women fleeing life-threatening violence.
Yanar has received numerous death threats from Islamist militants because of her activism. But she continues her critical work without hesitation. She is unwavering in her commitment to work towards a just and peaceful Iraq—and we are determined to stand with her.