For the safety and privacy of current Red Thread members, we have decided to omit profile pictures. In lieu, we have added our logo as a representation of their membership in our organization.
KAREN DE SOUZA, COORDINATOR
Karen de Souza is a women and child’s rights activist, primarily advocating and supporting victims of violence and educating on issues such as poverty, trafficking, and domestic violence. Beginning her career in political activism in the late 1970s, de Souza co-founded Red Thread alongside women in the Working People’s Alliance (WPA). In 1993, she left the WPA and became a full-time coordinator for Red Thread. Since joining, she has made significant contributions including drafting laws to protect against trafficking and violence, promoting self-advocacy and establishing a domestic violence survivor’s group. Her work in the organization has been recognized both regionally and internationally. De Souza was Guyana’s nominee for the International Women of Courage Award in 2012 and was awarded the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Award for Excellence in the field of community service in 2014.
Joy Marcus has been a member of Red Thread since she was 16 years old. Marcus’ mother, a member of Red Thread, advised her to go to a meeting called ‘A Woman’s Place’. Though Marcus was reluctant at first, she was amazed at how women in the workshop were able to address the issues she had seen within her community. Marcus, like many other young women, found her voice in Red Thread as a place where she could one day make a difference. Marcus also finds it important to highlight the uniqueness of Red Thread as an organization that speaks for grassroots women while addressing intersectional issues such as labour, violence, and politics in Guyana. Knowing the important role of Red Thread in her life and those around her, Marcus would like to see the organization expand with centres around the country and with more involvement from younger generations. Today, Marcus is one of the primary organizers at Red Thread.
Susan Collymore originally became involved with Red Thread through her children after they attended literacy classes in the afternoons. Through this introduction, Collymore began to cook for the literacy classes and attend meetings. Today, her role has grown to include working with women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Additionally, she acts as a support for victims of domestic abuse in court proceedings. Collymore has grown to see the importance of Red Thread in Guyanese society as an organization made for and run by grassroots women. In the future, she hopes that young people will become more involved.
Halima Khan has been with Red Thread since the beginning. In the early 1990s, Halima used Red Thread to escape the home at a time when she was a victim of verbal and physical abuse from family members. Khan saw Red Thread as a community center and a safe space. Today, Khan looks to provide that same comfort for other women and children struggling with domestic violence. Khan organizes and leads workshops and community meetings, and acts as a support for women going to court. Through her experience, Khan has seen the impact of the work done at Red Thread as one of the few places in the country that provides emotional support for women who have been victims of violence. Khan sees a bright future for Red Thread and urges young people to get more involved and continue their work.
Wintress White has been an active member of Red Thread since 1992. As a survivor of domestic abuse, White stumbled upon Red Thread when she mistakenly attended one of their workshops. This workshop not only brought to light her abusive relationship, but also provided her with a purpose that she had not found previously. After benefiting from the support provided by Red Thread, White decided to dedicate her life and time to the same organization that helped her. Today, White uses the knowledge gained from her personal experience to provide support for women in the same situation she was once in. She provides training on domestic/sexual violence through workshops and community meetings across the country.
Vanessa Ross has been a member of Red Thread for 27 years, after she found herself wanting upgrade her skills. Ross sees the importance of Red Thread as a place where one can go to find community – a place where anybody can feel welcome, no matter what race or social situation. Ross saw the benefits of Red Thread as a place that offers greater opportunities and support, both financially and otherwise. For the future of Red Thread, Ross hopes that members are able to have a larger involvement. Additionally, she hopes for Red Thread to develop as an agency that will support women financially if they are in a situation of need. Today, Ross works as the in-house librarian, leading reading classes.
Pere DeRoy joined Red Thread in 2009 as a United Nations Volunteer (UNV). After reading Andaiye’s “Women and Poverty in Guyana” in 2008, the article not only validated her observations about gender-based violence against women in the country, but it also served as the primary impetus for her to learn more about Andaiye and the work of Red Thread. She credits a lot of what she is and who she is today in the academy to observing and participating in how the women of Red Thread went about influencing policies at the national level and organizing at grassroots levels. This organization has taught her about decolonial practices, coloniality, the structural nature of violence against women in the family, the economy, educational and political institutions and generally, in Guyanese culture. DeRoy is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Women, Gender and Sexuality with a specialization in Public Policy and Caribbean & Latin American Studies at the University of Kansas. Her research primarily focuses on public policies related to labor and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Guyana and the Caribbean; livelihoods and the global political economy; women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ human rights.
Sherlina Nageer has been involved with Red Thread since 2009 when she re-migrated to Guyana. Nageer has long been concerned about equity, women’s and children’s rights, etc., and Red Thread was one of the few/only organizations she found in Guyana that was actively speaking out about those issues. Nageer attended a protest that Red Thread held after a teenage boy was tortured by the Leonora police in 2009; Nageer remembers that the location of the protest was directly across from the police station and people were avoiding the protesters like the plague. Nageer remembers thinking how terrible it was that more Guyanese weren’t willing to stand up against such abuses and decided then to ‘tie her bundle’ with Red Thread precisely because they were not afraid to speak out. This same quality is what has kept Nageer with Red Thread- their commitment to fighting for justice, to the grassroots, to being firmly non-partisan- in a country that seems stuck in divisiveness. Nageer states, “I often think of Red Thread as a model of what’s possible for civil society in Guyana- grassroots women working together, crafting policies to improve their lives and well-being, standing up to state oppression, visioning alternative/different/better ways to interact and build society. We need to engage more with young people, however, to make this happen; without that, I worry about the future of Red Thread.”