Friday, April 22, 2011

Luz y Libertad

By: Chelsae Crivello 
Augsburg College   

    The social work and migration and globalization groups went Luz y Libertad, a Christian Based Community. Luz y Libertad is a group of women in Cuernavaca that work to make the religion of God a reality, which is justice, liberty, respect, truth, solidarity and care.  They explained that a Christian Based Community is “a church in the movement, not a movement in the church”.  We had the privilege of talking with five women who helped run this group.  These strong women were very inspiring and not only have they worked hard to create this group but they have also been verbally assaulted from husbands and other members of their church.
       These women started meeting once a week just to reflect on the work of God and over time they realized that they needed to do more.  They created three groups within Luz y Libertad, a nutrition workshop, craft workshop, and a self-esteem workshop.  The nutrition workshop teaches women how to nourish themselves inexpensively.  They teach women how to cook with soy and they also teach them how to make bread and pastries so they can sell them if they need the money.  The craft workshop teaches women how to make crafts to sell so they can start to financially support themselves without their husbands.  The self-esteem workshop creates a space where women can engage together and become aware of social cultural conditions.  All of these groups teach women to become less dependent on their husbands because sexism is deeply rooted in the Mexican culture.  For example, the women explained that after 25 years of working it is almost impossible to find a job so these groups teach women how to financially support themselves and not have to rely on the husbands for money.
      Other than all the wonderful programs and community building they have done within Cuernavaca, Luz y Libertad was also able to go to a conference in Canada.  One woman said, “Although we didn’t speak the same language, we still spoke the same language”.  They felt very privileged to go to a conference to share the same passions other people had around the world. 
      After talking with the women of Luz y Libertad the students got the chance to eat their delicious food and reflect on the conversation.  It was very inspiring listening to the women of Luz y Libertad. They are all very strong women and work hard to better their community, as one woman put it, “If everyone put their grain of sand in we would have a different future”.  For me as a social work student, it was an honor listening to these women.  They have been through a lot, they have been attacked by people who do not agree, and have not been rightfully acknowledged for all of their work but they still keep on going. 


  1. It is very inspiring to read about an organization like this. It is so difficult to create a organization that not only helps individuals but teaches them to help themselves but it sounds like these women were able to create groups in Luz y Libertad that do so. I am a student who has been in a program in Thailand where we've been studying the importance of empowering individuals to fight for their own rights and solve their own problems. In a male dominated society like Mexico- it seems like it would be incredibly difficult for women to find a way to solve their own problems and empower themselves without finding the support of other people facing the same problem (like women in this organization). Also, it is one thing for these women to provide a class that teaches concrete skills like nutrition- but it is entirely more impressive that they try to address a potential root problem like low-self esteem. This is wonderful because how are these women supposed to continue feeling strong, empowered and capable if they are unable to perceive themselves as such?

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  3. Great job on this post Chelsea. You summed up our visit to Luz y Libertad very well.

    This experience for me was very eye opening. The five women that run these programs are extremely strong and independent women. Like you said Chelsea they have experienced a lot of criticism and abuse because of their roles within this organization. It takes a lot for someone to keep doing the work they believe in while being criticized and such. These women have stood strong for what they believed in for over twenty years!

    The three different programs that are offered through Luz y Libertad are very beneficial to the women of their community. These programs really empower the women to make their own decisions and create a life for themselves. The women are able to be independent and make something of them selves. Learning about this organization really helped me put into perspective how important it is to work with the oppressed populations within our country!

    I really wish that it were possible for organizations in like this to be present in all of the communities around the world. Today many women are still oppressed and so much more work is needed to be accomplished on the equality between the two genders. The opportunities that the women of the community are given are amazing and I hope to learn more about organizations like this in the U.S. that help women!

  4. Luz y Libertad sounds like a really great community to be apart of. It sounds like you gave your support through community education efforts, empowering women to find resources on their own. The workshops also seemed like opportunities for women to find support within each other. I found it really interesting that you said sexism is rooted deeply within the Mexican culture and I find that many of us women in the United States take it for granted the rights we have today. A student in Nancy Rodenborg's class mentioned that Women in the United States have surpassed men in continuing in their college education! I thought that was really impressive. I am hopeful that women in Mexico will be encouraged by their husbands to work towards bettering their selves and their education one day. I also feel inspired by your ability to work with women and teach them how to work to support their selves financially. What a great example of community organizing!

    Thanks Chelsea for sharing your experiences,

    Britni Bourlard

  5. Chelsea--

    Great post. I agree with you that it's inspiring to see this organic movement of powerful women working toward social justice. What I thought was especially interesting was how their husbunds have to come to accept the fact that they are part of this movement--after almost 20 years of involvement! Machismo? Regardless, these powerful women are an inspiring example of successful community organization. For example, their involvement in the Peace March illustrates illustrates their dedication to their causes--they don't pick or chose.
    I especially enjoy the concept that "the closer we are to social justice, the closer we are to God." I think that social workers all around the globe can learn a lot from Luz y Libertad, Romero and the Christian Base movement. How can we bring this strong cohesion with us to build strong cohesive groups in the US in group work practice?
    As a gay man, this idea really intrigues me. I would love to see what types of Christian Base communities are available in Minneapolis when I return home.

    Thanks again, Chelsea!
    -Billy Hamilton