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The road to get here wasn’t short, but it never is when we want to go far and deep, especially  within ourselves. And the ritual begins from the moment in which we connect with the possibility and privilege of receiving care, when they tell us about a house located in a wonderful village, a house for women. It echoed the novels of Marsela Serrano; we who love each other so much, the shelter of sad women who had been given an opportunity which we had not been given before– time to travel the map of my body, time to recognize the ties of my history, time to know the accumulated pain and sadness of the patriarchal and systematic weight in my road and the road of others. I arrived. We arrived to this house as diverse women, emotions running high with our mysteries and silences which, at the end of the days, we shared between smiles, complicity, and care. From collectives belonging to movements to different struggles, but at the same time, unique beings recognizing our faces in the mirror of each other. It is not easy, it is not simple, it is not pleasant to reunite with our darkness, with the most hidden  fears– we have been taught the shame of letting go of our emotions, or we have become so strong that we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable. To cry openly, to ask for help. But here in this house, my spirit has reunited with my body, I could engage with the energies of others who came before me and whose history was soaked in the details of the space, in the marvelous pictures that decorated the space, in each ritual, in each practice, in each symbol that I remain in recognition of the strength of the peoples and movements to which each one of us belongs. Every day, delight and fullness also embraced us; I am reminded of another novel “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel, because we feed and energize in so many ways– through food and the kitchen as the center for our chats and bursts of laughter– a place where we formed friendships and shared our lives, feelings, and intimacies. The Serene House is  led by healers, loving leaders like us, defenders of the skin, of energy, of the earth’s bodily territory. They guided us in autonomy and freedom in this space, this serene and warm house that would accompany us everywhere, that would restore the network of life together.

The Serene House (Casa Serena) is a space for self care and care for the wellbeing of women human rights defenders. The Serene House is a project coordinated by the Oaxaca Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equity and is one of the integral protection strategies that propels the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative.

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