Honduras: Reina Isabel Cálix

We have to do something for humanity every day, and we have to respect human dignity and work for the common good. Only then we can achieve piece.

— Reina Isabel Cálix

Resourceful since her childhood. A rural teacher since the age of 15. At age 33, she went into the field of adult education and started to take part of community social groups for the peasant causes. She went into the fight for the agrarian reform. She came close to two massacres, in 1972 and 1975. She survived and, in the following year, she began to organize groups of women. She is still a teacher. Nowadays, she teaches other apprentice teachers who, like herself, dream of creating a lullaby for world peace with their own words. That is Reina Isabel Cálix, a Honduran.

Since she was a child, she worked hard. Reina Isabel Cálix sold sweets prepared by her own hands under the watchful eye of her mother, a master in the art of making sweets. She was in the second grade but had never owned a pair of shoes. “I wore my first pair of shoes when I was 12.” She is Honduran. She was born in 1939 in the poor neighborhood of Juticalpa, the main city of the province of Olancho. When she finished the sixth grade, she asked her mother to help her to apply for a post in the rural area as an apprentice teacher. She got it. It was in 1954 and she earned 40 lempiras (US$ 2.5) a month. She moved on to other schools an–for ten years–taught pupils from first to third grade. Her path changed when she was 25 years old and the Radio-phonic Schools opened a different path. She was able to teach adults how to read and write. She also was taught: In the 1960s she participated in the fight for the agrarian reform, joining marches and occupying land. In 1972, the six peasant massacre happened very close to her. In 1975, the army broke up a march of 5000 people. The Honduran army occupied the headquarters of the National Union of Peasants, the Santa Clara Center. People were killed. Others were detained and then murdered. Reina was a witness. She survived. Eight months passed. When the army left the Santa Clara Center, only the walls and roof remained. No one wanted to go back. The women took the first step, settling themselves in the Center and beginning to organize them. For 18 years now, Reina Isabel Cálix has taught apprentice teachers, 400 of them. 17,000 children from 90 villages, in 12 municipalities in Olancho, have received pre-school education thanks to them. 50 schools for adults, one itinerant sewing workshop, a course for qualifying bakers and one for horticulture are now available. Today, Reina is 67 years old and she keeps going.

National Union of Peasants Federation of Urban and Rural Women of Olancho