Becoming an Activist in Honduras

Daysi Flores

I sold my first pair of sandals when I was five years old. I was raised on the streets of the city market in Tegucigalpa and I attended school far from my home but only a few blocks away from my refuge – the busy market stalls with their constant noise and rush of people. It was not an easy life, and I was shaped forever by school and the marketplace. The only stability in my life was the instability: I lived in different places to escape the problems my father exposed me to when he abandoned me. However, I was not alone, I was never alone. My mother worked day and night to care for us and support us, but she still could not manage, so my brother and I had to learn to take care of each other and eventually of our younger brother and sister and sometimes even of our mother. We became partners in facing this reality, united in a way that still mystifies other people. This profound connection marked our lives: together, we would run away, we would cry, we would care for each other, keep each other company, play, laugh. We still do. At fourteen years of age, my brother decided to drop out of school so I could finish. And I did.

Once the Christmas season passed, there was little work in the market and school didn’t begin until February, so we would visit my 85-yearold great-grandmother on a far-off mountain in the southern region of the country. Our relationship with her went deep, and country life gave us breathing room. In January of 1995, I had to go alone. On the way, a man tried to rape me, holding a machete to my throat. The ordeal lasted almost two hours on the mountain but I finally succeeded in freeing myself, fighting him off and running away. I escaped only because I was slightly stronger and fitter than he was. But I had pushed my body to its limit, I had severely injured my back and my soul was so broken that I couldn’t feel anything. My mother knew of a support group for women who had survived violence and she took me to a place called La Casa de la Mujer (House of the Women). It was there that I began to understand what had happened to me, that I was not the only one to experience such violence, and unfortunately that I would not be the last one. That is how I found feminism and discovered a world that offered me alternatives and a source of knowledge to answer the many questions that had haunted me over the years. Little by little I began to involve myself in the work – I ended up staying with the Casa for eight years. I worked in different communities and on different projects, most aimed at young women like me, with their concerns, conflicts, violence, desires and dreams.

Love and hope have been the powerful tools that have helped me survive and fight against injustice. Since that time on the mountain, I have continued on my journey, learning from other women about different ways of seeing life and different ways of living it. Now – from the numerous identities that inhabit my body, as a woman, a feminist, a lesbian, an engineer, rebellious and irreverent – I look every day for ways to create and impart new opportunities, new ways of relating to each other and to the earth. I declare myself in PERMANENT RESISTANCE, among the Feministas en Resistencia, an amazing coven of witches who fight for liberty and democracy. All coups, and particularly the coup d’état perpetrated against our democracy in Honduras on June 28, 2009, fade from the news, but we fight against forgetting, as we oppose the continuing violation of the human rights of those of us who live under this dictatorship. Because with the clarity that comes from personal and collective struggles, from the umbilical cord that binds me to the earth until song flows from my wings, as my great-grandmother said: "You can only be who you are!"