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Houston’s Latinx Women’s Group Fights Gender-Based Violence and Exploitation – Secures Funding to Keep Going Strong

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In November 2019, a flash mob organized by a group of feminists in Chile composed a song that would become an anthem for victims of violence and sexual assault. The song was an indictment of the patriarchal power of prosecutors, judges, and society. Moreover, they choreographed a flash dance that went viral throughout Chile and other large cities worldwide.

This was the impetus for Miriam Damaris Maldonado, a Puerto Rican-born social worker and community activist, and Rosaly Acosta, a filmmaker and photographer from the Dominican Republic. These two strong-willed feminists reverse-engineered Houston’s flash mob protest against domestic violence and sexual abuse.

With Houston being the epicenter of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, it didn’t take much for students, non-binary people, community leaders, academics, survivors of domestic violence, and recent immigrants to Houston to come together to perform the song during the Women’s March of 2020 on the doorstep of City Hall. This brought extensive press and a call for women and supporters to unite to this group that would be called Colectiva Feminista Colibri.

In August 2021, Colectiva Feminista Colibri was granted its 501(c)3 status, which gave it structure and a path for funding to grow and accomplish its mission. Leadership of the group is through a collective consensus of its core nucleus that includes Miriam Damaris, Dr. Gabriela Baeza, Ethel González Zamora, Carolina Villaroel, Myr Olivares, and Vanessa Torres. Additionally, the organization has received support from an extensive group of talented and powerful women in the community. This organization serves Afro-Latin, Latinx, LGBTQ, Latin Americans, and the feminist community.

How adequate funding can make the difference for BIPOC organizations.

During the COVID-19 crisis, the volunteer labor of Colectiva Feminista reached a breaking point and could no longer continue working under the dire threat of illness and death. Miriam was encouraged to apply to a BANF grant by Dr. Gabriela Baeza, and according to Miriam, “The process was easy and beautiful, very accessible to handle.” Miriam believes that for groups such as Colectiva Feminista Colibri, adequate funding can be the difference between stalling and prospering. A few weeks later after she submitted the application, she got the news ̶ the BANF funds had been granted.

Thanks to the funding from BANF, Colectiva Feminista Colibri was able to host several events and festivals that brought together members of the community they serve to celebrate and recognize the contributions of women and LGBTQ+ individuals. For their first festival, the Festival de Poesía Transfeminista, they collaborated with the Organización Latina Trans en Texas to provide awards for members of the community, pay musicians, and provide food and refreshments for attendees. For their second and third festivals, they partnered with The Women of the World Gallery, to showcase the work of female artists, poets, musicians, and painters, and to bring visibility to the perceptions of women in Houston. Through pooled resources and additional collaborations with Somos Loud and Talento Bilingue Houston, Colictiva Feminista Colibri expanded opportunities for presenting artists and convening community members. Miriam comments, “With the grant, we were also able to establish a strong online presence through our website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and branding, which helped us call attention to our mission and continue working in our community.”

Seed funding plays a crucial role in supporting community groups that are often overlooked by corporate and foundation donors. As reports like this one continue to emerge, there is growing momentum to re-evaluate and prioritize grant opportunities for marginalized grassroots organizations.
While the startup phase of Colectiva Feminista Colibri is nearly complete, Miriam believes that the journey is long to see the change in the Houston community to raise awareness of abuse within the Latino communities, of women, children, and LGBTQ

Currently, the organization promotes “Colibri Red Apoyo” (Colibri Support Network), a hub that works as a platform where participants can communicate in Spanish or English the needs, resources, and opportunities for Latinx women, families, children, youth, and other ethnic minorities in the community.