At 12 years old María Elena Moyano was one of these original settlers of Villa El Salvador, and among its many Afro-Peruvian residents. As a teenager, she tutored community members in reading and writing. She grew to be one of Villa El Salvador’s strongest voices and advocates, helping to found and lead important fundamental efforts such as its Vaso de Leche (Glass of Milk) program, overseeing the daily delivery of milk to each of the community’s children and elders, soup kitchens, mothers’ clubs, and early education programs. By the age of 24, she was president of FEPOMUVES (Popular Federation for the Women of Villa El Salvador), and eventually became the municipality’s deputy mayor.
María Elena was a mother of two, and also became known as “La Madre Coraje”—the courageous mother of Villa El Salvador. And she was unafraid to speak out against the rampant violence of Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), Perú’s Maoist terrorist organization, founded in 1970 by white philosophy professor Abimael Guzmán. Sendero Luminoso believed revolution was attainable only through bloodshed and war, and between their attacks on villages and cities, and the military’s counterinsurgency tactics, Perú's Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates more than 69,000 of people were killed and/or disappeared between 1980 and 2000. María Elena Moyano was also committed to revolution, but the kind achieved through the accumulation of small, daily actions—such as the radical act of nourishing one’s community. In her own words:
“… the revolution opens up to life, to individual and collective dignity; it is a new ethic. The revolution is not death, or imposition, or submission, nor fanaticism. The revolution is new life, convincing people to struggle for a fair, decent society, side by side with the organizations created for our people, respecting its interior democracy and grafting new buds of power for the new Peru. I shall continue to stand alongside my people, women, youngsters and children; I shall continue to struggle for peace in the name of social justice.” 
An estimated 300,000 people walked the streets for her funeral. Each year on February 15, the anniversary of her death, Villa El Salvador honors and remembers their Madre Coraje.
Once the structures were in place, young people from the community planted radishes, lettuce, and cilantro. Its name is el Huerto de la Ternura—Garden of Tenderness—a symbol of INFANT’s efforts to collaborate with youth to build cultures of non-violence.
In her short life, María Elena Moyano knew that the ability for a community to nourish itself is fundamental to its autonomy. In these days of massive, global mobilizations against state violence, police impunity, systemic racism, torture reports, and thousands of other abuses of power, small hands planting small seeds is still a revolutionary action.
 Starn, Orin, Carlos Iván Degregori, and Robin Kirk, eds. "Villa El Salvador". In The Peru reader: history, culture, politics, 2nd edition (pp. 287-92). Duke University Press, 2005.
 Starn, Orin, Carlos Iván Degregori, and Robin Kirk, eds. "Manchay Tiempo". In The Peru reader: history, culture, politics, 2nd edition (pp. 353-4). Duke University Press, 2005.
 "MARIA ELENA MOYANO: A 'pasionaria' in the fight against poverty" (http://www.gariwo.net/pagina.php?id=7635)