Grassroots International recognizes the deep wounds wrought by colonialism, militarism, and other systems of oppression. And we believe in the power of social movements to work towards healing these wounds, developing resources through which those directly affected can re-story their lives as they create transformative change and achieve liberation.
We are therefore honored to host the Martín-Baró Initiative for Wellbeing and Human Rights (MBI). Working closely with a group of volunteers – including psychologists, researchers, teachers, students, and activists – MBI provides grants to grassroots efforts in communities affected by institutional violence, repression, and social injustice. These projects promote psychological wellbeing, social consciousness, political resistance, and social justice – often drawing from ancestral knowledge and practices.
About Ignacio Martín-Baró
Ignacio Martín-Baró was a social psychologist, scholar, activist, and Jesuit priest renowned for his cutting-edge work around liberation psychology. He was one of six Jesuits who, along with their housekeeper and her daughter, were murdered by the Salvadoran military in 1989 at the Central American University in San Salvador. At the time of his death, he was the Vice-Rector of the University and the Director of the University’s Center for Public Opinion.
KOURAJ fights for the fundamental human rights of LGBTQIA+ persons in Haiti and seeks to transform Haitian society through a Haitian rights-based movement. The MBI grant will go towards KOURAJ’s provision of mental health support for HIV positive members of the Haitian LGBTQIA+ community. The daily denial of basic human rights damages this vulnerable population’s mental health immensely. Psychological support will be supplemented with trainings on knowing one’s rights. Having secured a local psychologist who can facilitate culturally grounded mental health and well-being counselling, KOURAJ is now identifying participants in this project to provide them with the support they need.
Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center, Nigeria
Founded in 2003, the Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center (Kebetkache for short) is a grassroots organization working in Nigeria and the West Africa subregion to promote women’s rights and environmental justice through education, advocacy, and community action. The MBI grant will support Kebethache’s Building Women’s Resilience Through Trauma Healing project. The project promotes holistic health through trauma healing processes in three areas that have endured violence and conflict in the last five years. Components include counseling and storytelling sessions to heal shared trauma, together with various social, mental, emotional and physical health treatments.
Domestic Workers United, USA
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Domestic Workers United (DWU) is run by Caribbean, Latina and African worker leaders and volunteers. It organizes to end the exploitation and oppression of all workers whose labor is based mainly in homes and is not protected by most labor laws in New York City. The MBI grant will support DWU’s Collective Self Caring as Resistance project. This project includes Town Halls to educate excluded workers on their rights, a food justice-based Community Supported Agriculture program distributing free bags of organic produce, and virtual self-care presentations and exercises for the organizations’ members.
Doctors for Global Health, El Salvador
Doctors for Global Health (Médicos para la Salud Global) was founded in 1995 by volunteers in El Salvador. Through building long-term relationships between its volunteers and communities around the world, it works to foster improved health and human rights. Through support from MBI, Doctors for Global Health’s Connecting with Life project will promote the mental health of the survivors of armed conflict in El Salvador through a radio campaign and the creation of self-help and self-care groups. The project targets survivors of traumatic events such as social violence, gender violence, and forced migration.
Comissão Patrol da Terra, Brazil
The Comissão Pastoral da Terra (Pastoral Land Commission (CPT)) accompanies peoples of the land and waters of Maranhão, Brazil, as they engage in collective struggles over territory and human rights through sustainable food production and organized resistance. With support from MBI, CPT is launching its newest project, From Banzo to Healing: Facing Pain through the Eyes of Women. This project works with women from communities accompanied by the CPT, using psychological care and group experiences to strengthen their community autonomy and resistance.
Colectiva Actores de Cambio, Guatemala
Colectiva Actores de Cambio (the Actors of Change Collective) was founded in Guatemala in 2009. It promotes healing and justice for Maya and mestizo women who are survivors of sexual crimes and gendered racialized violence committed during the Guatemalan civil war and beyond. MBI is supporting the Collective’s Healing Action for the Recovery of Power and Life to Build Territories Free of Sexual Violence. This project is a continuation of action-healing-training processes that the Collective has been developing since 2009.
Afaq Jadeeda, Palestine
Afaq Jadeeda (New Horizons) is in the Nuseirat Camp in Paletsine’s Gaza Strip, home to tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees living through extreme violence under occupation. The MBI grant will facilitate support of the psychosocial wellbeing of over 200 children in the camp through creative activities that foster their abilities to express their feelings to family and friends. The project also involves educating family members, teachers, and other community members on how to support these children in the face of ongoing violence against Palestinians.
Buena Semilla, Guatemala
A project of Buena Semilla (Good Seed), Women’s Circles were created by and for rural Mayan women. The Circles target women experiencing psychosocial adversity, such as survivors of gender-based violence. Through their participation, they build community, learn new skills, strengthen their sense of agency, and create safe spaces for self-expression. The MBI grant will facilitate the grassroots multiplication of the Women’s Circles, creating 17 additional ones. These will provide psychosocial support for over 200 Indigenous women, indirectly benefiting more than 2,000 family members and
Centro de Apoyo Mutuo Jíbaro de Lares, Puerto Rico
The Centro de Apoyo Mutuo Jíbaro de Lares (the Jíbaro Mutual Support Center of Lares, jíbaro meaning peasant, or person from the countryside) is part of a larger network of mutual aid and support centers within Puerto Rico built by communities in response to Hurricane Maria. The project supported by MBI promotes medical sovereignty through the formation of a multifaceted holistic health program to address the injustices of colonial trauma. Specific programs will include individual and group therapy, community space for dance and therapy, a medicinal garden, and other ceremonial and cultural healing practices.
Fundación Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas, El Salvador
Fundación Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas (The Bartolomé de las Casas Center and Foundation (CBC)) was created in El Salvador to help heal communities affected by conflict. The MBI grant will support Nuku Yolb’e, a dialogue and exchange among survivors from two different towns: Chalatenango, El Salvador, and Quiché, Guatemala. The project aims to link the two communities, both with pasts of military dictatorships and grave structural injustices, in conversation to explore and redefine collective memory. CBC will create the space for an exchange of experience and wisdom in a community radio
Lajee Center, Palestine
The Lajee Center engages creatively with new generations of Palestinians in the ongoing struggle for justice and rights. It was established in the Aida Refugee Camp in 2001, with active members also in the Dheisheh and Al-Azza Refugee Camps, and in the cities of Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, and Ad-Doha. Its overarching goal is to provide refugee youth with cultural, educational, social, and developmental opportunities. With MBI funding, the Lajee Center will launch the Palestinian Resilience Research Collective. This collective will develop and publish a training manual for locally-based community health workers based on years of communal lived experiences and fieldwork.