Book Review of “Hear My Testimony”
This is probably one of the most moving books I have ever read in my life. It is basically a narrative story of the life of an El Salvadorian women named: Maria Teresa Tula. Maria is a wonderful storyteller and the fact the she is describing her own real life experiences greatly add to the impact of the book.
Most of the chapters in the book are just her telling about her life. She was born a very poor and sickly child, growing up with her mother and grandmother, after her mother had left her abusive husband. This was only the beginning of a very rough and trying life that she would face. She went on to describe her childhood, how other Salvadorian women were treated and the Salvadorian way of viewing women. Raised as a strict Catholic, she was taught by her grandmother at a young age to “act like a proper young women.”
From there on she continues to talk about her adolescence where she quickly learned about the threat of physical abuse and molestation towards young girls. She did not continue with school pat the age of 9 and in her small job of working in the local market she was confronted with true and absolute poverty on a daily basis. She got pregnant at age 15. At 16 she had her first fist fight with her abusive physically brother. And at 17 met the father of her other future children. While with this man, Rafael Canales, she learned first hand the hardships of poor domestic life. She also learned to assert herself even towards her own husband.
In 1978, the year I was born, Maria Teresa joined a human rights group called CO-MADRES. (The Mothers and Relatives of Political Prisoners, Disappeared and Assassind of El Salvador) Due to her husband being jailed and severely tortured after a sugar mill strike she found herself unsuspectingly thrown into a political arena. It is her work with this organization that begins to completely consume her life and is the core of the entire book.
Once aligned with this organization Maria’s eyes are opened to the bigger picture of political oppression in her country. She, along with many other women of El Salvador, watch as hundreds of their men are unjustly jailed, tortured and disappeared. She was also a witness to the inhumane exploitation of workers. Starting with a peaceful takeover of the UN building by 8 mothers of disappeared civilians, and a three-month hunger strike at the El Salvadorian Red Cross, the women continued to spread their word of freedom and justice using peaceful methods of protest. They organized hunger strikes, rallies, protests, distributed food to starving families, and did whatever they could to receive national as well as International attention to their cause. They even were invited to the World Peace Council on a trip to the Royal Palace in Costa Rica and received the first ever John F....