Born in a house full of women, abounded with affections. Her mother wrote stories for a local newspaper and her father illustrated them. María Luisa Navarro Garrido knew about the existence of suffering, but did not experience it herself during her childhood. Since she was 20 years old, she was a nun. She has worked to promote public education in the most problematic villages of Venezuela. Her two passions: being religious and living from the heart.
“I am a woman who had two births, I was born and re-born,” explains María Luisa Navarro Garrido. The first one was by the decision of her parents, in Madrid, Spain, in 1942. Her second birth was the result of her personal decision to live among the Venezuelan people. “Onto my Spanish roots the Venezuelan sap was engraved. That generated in me a great sympathy for this multicultural society and a special love for Bolivar's people and for the people of Don Quixote.” The experience of living in an artisan's home made her sensitive to the daily things of life: “I specially loved the plants, I took care of them and I watered them and talked to them. Later, I discovered that I had an intense environmental consciousness that influenced a lot of the decisions I made in my life.” Educated in the School of the Sacred Heart, in Madrid, she chose the two major projects of her life: to be a nun and to live from the heart. She knew about the hard life of the peasants in the South of Spain. “I admired the courage of the women and my love for nature grew. I discovered my capacity to confront situations and I pledged my life to the struggles of the people.” In 1974, María Luisa Navarro Garrido arrived in the Paría peninsula, in the East of Venezuela. She was then 30 years old. Since then, she has carried on her work as a fighter for social causes, choosing to privilege those who are in most disadvantages in society and also striving for equal rights for women. “My achievements are collective achievements. They belong not to me but to the groups I work with. In Paría, I continued to discover more about the Venezuelan women, admiring their spirit of resistance and their courage. I felt pain for the injustice and inequality they suffered. I feel pain today for the disadvantages of the poor.”
Sisters of the Sacred Heart Community Center for Popular Promotion