Bolivian domestic workers' leader wins 2003 World Methodist Peace Award

The 2003 World Methodist Peace Award recipient is CasimiraRodriguez Romero, a Bolivian Domestic Worker. The Award will bepresented on 20 November by His Eminence Sunday Mbang, Chairpersonof the World Methodist Council, in a ceremony at La ReformaMethodist Church in La Paz, Bolivia. 

The World Methodist Peace Award is presented annually on behalfof the 39 million believers in the global Methodist/Wesleyanfamily, to an individual or group that has made significantcontributions to peace and reconciliation.

Casimira was born in Mizque, Bolivia, a province nearCochabamba. The only girl in a family which lived in poverty, shebecame a domestic worker at the age of 13. Subjected to physical,mental and sexual abuse, she was treated as a servant, working herfirst two years without pay. Exploitation and discrimination ofdomestic workers was common. Casimira describes moments when shefelt life was meaningless because she had been locked up in a verysmall world. 

When Casimira met the Lord her life began to be filled with hopeand faith, because she realized God was with the poor, denouncinginjustice and healing the sick. She became part of the EmmanuelMethodist Church congregation in Cochabamba which continues to bean important part of her life.

Casimira was invited to join a household workers seamstress andliteracy class, and was permitted to attend on Sunday, her day off.This class eventually became the Domestic Household WorkersOrganization, and Casimira rose to become its leader. Twice she hasbeen elected as the General Secretary of the National Federation ofHousehold Workers.

In 2002 the Bolivian Parliament passed a Household Workers Law,a landmark piece of legislation granting protection from themistreatment, aggression and near slave conditions of manyhousehold domestic workers. The bill was first introduced in 1992and took ten years to become law. Casimira's work, along with otherhuman rights organizations, resulted in this landmark legislationprotecting human rights. 

She was nominated by Bishop Carlos Intipampa, leader of theIglesia Evanglica Metodista de Bolivia, for her perseverance,Christian character, and for her tireless efforts for peace,reconciliation and justice in the face of centuries of oppression.The World Methodist Peace Award is the highest honour given by theworld family of people in the Methodist/Wesleyan tradition.

The World Methodist Council, a Christian World Communioncomprised of 76 member churches in the Methodist/Wesleyan familylocated in 132 countries, began the World Methodist Peace Award in1971 in Dublin, Ireland. Past recipients include President BorisTrajkovsky, President of the Republic of Macedonia, Nelson Mandela,former President of South Africa, and Kofi Annan, Secretary Generalof the United Nations.

Nominations for the World Methodist Peace Award areconsidered annually by the officers of the World Methodist Counciland may be made at any time. Letters of nomination should includethe rationale for the nomination, information about the nominee'swork for peace, reconciliation and justice, and a picture of thenominee should be included. Nominations should be sent to Dr GeorgeFreeman, General Secretary, World Methodist Council, PO Box 518,Lake Junaluska, North Carolina 28745, USA.