31 Mar 2018
Remembering Irene Fernandez , The Co-founder of Tenaganita Women’s Force, The Human Rights Defender, The Mother of Migrants, The Champion of the Oppressed and A Courageous Woman.
Four years have passed since our beloved Irene Fernandez left us.
Today we would like to remember her for what she stood for, fought against and protected.
Irene lived her life with an unshakeable commitment to justice, to defending rights, to speaking truths that were difficult and often unwelcome by those who held power. These aren't new statements about Irene, not to anyone who has known her work. But in the four years since her passing, we've been called again and again to think about what this commitment means.
When cruelty in the world seems to grow, when our political realities grow more dire, when those at the margins are increasingly attacked, when rights are violated, how do we remain strong and steadfast in our commitment? How do we keep believing in the possibility for a better world?
We think of her favorite words to us “ Do not compromise on the human rights of anyone, none at all, is that clear?” and “ Never ever be afraid to speak the truth, especially for the ones who do not have a voice in our society” .
We think about the strength she carried in the face of seemingly impossible struggles; we think about how she defended the freedom of others even as her's was taken from her; we trust her conviction that our actions of today matter in building a more just world in a tomorrow that may come after our passing. We listen to the faith she had in our collective power.
We think about the ways in which we plant seeds of life in each other, and we look for the ways her ideas grow through us, even as we grow stronger in new and different ways.
As such, we bring her into our memory today , we celebrate her life of selfless giving, her joy in empowering others, her passion for truth and justice, and we rejoice in her commitment towards the people.We salute her courage, dedication and unwavering integrity and sincerely thank her for the significant legacy she has left behind.
We at Tenaganita are so proud to continue Irene's remarkable work through the foundation she has laid within us, the foundation of love , truth and justice without compromising the human rights of anyone. In fact, she has set a clear direction for us at Tenaganita with a vision for a just,free, democratic and sustainable society , where all persons are equal with dignity and rights.
So now it is our turn to carry her legacy of struggle as our torch in the work for the communities of migrants, refugees, women , children and many others who come our way, for Irene loved life fiercely, she respected it, she cherished it, she defended it. In her death, her love for the dignity and value of all persons and the planet lives on in all of us who work and live in commitment to that love.
Irene remains so close in our hearts and her unwavering courageous ways lead us to the path of equality, freedom and justice.
"We belong to one race, the human race and we have only one earth. This solidarity of people must ensure that we put people and the planet before profits. The earth we are given is not just for us but also for those who come after us. They need a tomorrow and that rests on us today." - Irene Fernandez
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