Youth for Human Rights International Year 2013 in Review
Human Rights Leadership Campaigns
Human Rights Education continues to expand through initiatives such as short films, summer camps, television broadcasts and more in countries around the world. For example, the YHRI African Human Rights Leadership Campaign continued to engage young people in several African countries throughout the year.
In Ghana, Prince Addoquaye Acquaye, team member in the African Campaign in 2008-09 and now a graduate student at Ashesi University, Accra, Ghana was instrumental in a series of Ashesi Junior Entrepreneurs Network (AJEN) workshops for high school students in Ghana and in Liberia in June and July, putting his human rights leadership training to work in the economic development of West Africa.
Also in Ghana, Mabel Abayie and Diana Asima, also African Campaign team members in 2008-09, and now students at the Kwami Nkrumah Institute for Science and Technology in Kumasi, organized a YHRI human rights advocacy competition at a local Kumasi high school in May and June. Mabel also worked for three months this year as a volunteer on human rights education initiatives for the Ghana Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
In Ghana, African Campaign director Michael Amoah Awuah was also able to secure the year-long weekly broadcast of the YHRI public service announcements nationally over the Ghana Broadcast Corporation (GBC), resulting in floods of inquiries for more information and involvement.
In June and July, Bertrand Tientcheu, YHR-Cameroon, helped deliver workshops in the capital city of Yaoundé organized by the Faith and Liberation Network, covering tools to improve governance, human rights, conflict resolution and peace building. Bertrand also assisted in the organization of meetings between civil society leaders and Mrs Navi Pillay, the UN Human Rights High Commissioner on for human rights awareness and advancement in Cameroon. The meetings were critical as the last tour of Cameroon by a U.N. human rights commissioner was over ten years ago.
2006 YHRI hero award winner Jay Yarsiah from Liberia, one of the creators of the African Campaign, is now studying for his master’s degree in international conflict analysis and mediation at George Mason University in Virginia, U.S.A. Jay was able to travel back to West Africa three time this year, in May, August and December, to engage community leaders and meet with African Campaign directors and alumni, including Michael Amoah Awuah (YHR-Ghana), Boersen Hinneh (YHR-Liberia), and Alex Pratt (YHR-Sierra Leone), for expansion of youth human rights leadership training over the region in the coming year and beyond.
Congo based AJC Bomoko collaborated with YHRI and promoted the YHRI videos in schools in Kinshasa. They brought the community together and organized the Monama Show for tolerance and peace. Mr. Tshidinda participated in several television interviews promoting the importance of learning and understanding human rights and aired the YHRI videos to over ten million people.
The Karachi University in Pakistan, in collaboration with our team, is now delivering the “Citizen Empowerment Project” to a select group of students. A small school was opened giving more students access to education. Working with support from the government, we are working in government colleges in three towns near Karachi. Our program was implemented as part of a private school curriculum where students are enrolled and assessed on the “Character Development Program.” Several Peace Walks were also held.
The Pasadena High Schools Team, based in California, USA, continued to campaign for human rights far beyond their city’s boundaries. Following the Human Rights Day, 2012 premier of their documentary Finding Our Voice, calling for human rights education to inspire students to take maximum opportunity of their schooling, the team engaged numerous elected officials, community leaders, educators and youth by film showings and discussions throughout 2013. These included presentations to the California Association of Student Councils (CASC) annual summit, the Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena, NAACP Pasadena, the Lake Ave. Community Church Foundation, and Teen Futures Pasadena. The City of Pasadena also featured the documentary all summer in at least 15 of its “Parks After Dark” film showings. Finding Our Voice was also honored by acceptance and showing at the Black Hollywood Film Festival in October.
Workshops and presentations were held to raise awareness of the vital role of Human Rights Education in curbing the multi-billion dollar global black market of Human Trafficking that involves1.2 million children annually, according to UNICEF. Conference locations included Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Venezuela, and in the USA, we reached audiences in Arizona, California, Colorado, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Utah, Washington DC and Washington State.
International Human Rights Day Walks for Human Rights
On December 10th, in honor of International Human Rights Day, we hosted events around the world. Our 5th annual YHRI International Walk for Human Rights 2013 was coordinated and executed by our teams. In Sri Lanka more than 4,000 supporters walked in 36ºC (96 ºF) weather with lit candles culminating in a concert celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Canada, bitterly cold weather of -9°C (16ºF) did not chill the spirits of our “Human Rights on the Move” event that took to the air with student dance teams who seemed to defy gravity and lifted the spirits of all in attendance. Students in Oregon, USA, donned thick gloves, scarves and hats and proudly walked for human rights, while the Texas sun smiled upon our team rallying friends and community alike to join in their walk and community event in the park. Teams in India took the lead and raised the bar with more walks than any other country on earth!
Your Support of Youth for Human Rights International
This list of dedicated volunteers and their inspiring Human Rights Education activities is hardly complete. This serves only as a cursory glimpse into the dedication, tenacity and creativity of our teams around the world. I want to thank each and every one of our volunteers, donors, sponsors, collaborators and supporters. You are bringing Human Rights Education into the spotlight resulting in our exponential global expansion. Former Human Rights Education & Protection Advisor United Nations and Former Ugandan Diplomat (1974-1987), H.E. Ambassador Ireneo Omositson Namboka wrote, “Youth for Human Rights International assumes its rightful place as an unequaled civil society entity in the world in the promotion of HR education, peace and universal brotherhood.”
As a nonprofit organization we rely on memberships, generous donations and supporters, in addition to the on-the-ground work of our dedicated volunteers across the globe. We appreciate your help and encourage you to invite your family and friends to join in the global movement to teach human rights at www.youthforhumanrights.org or visit www.humanrights.com. Youth for Human Rights International is the youth component of United for Human Rights, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization headquartered in Los Angeles. Youth for Human Rights is a global movement, with groups, clubs and chapters in almost two hundred countries around the world. United for Human Rights strives to educate the public about human rights and to promote tolerance and peace among people of the world.
I want to acknowledge the Youth for Human Rights International Board Members as well as our Advisory Board Members including Mr. Almog Burstein, Dr. Pouran Ameli, Professor Ian Hall, Dr. Elizabeth McKinney, Sheriff Leroy Baca, Sheeraz Hasan and Irving Sarnoff. Special acknowledgement goes to the Human Rights Department of the Church of Scientology International for their outstanding support.
Thank you and congratulations to all who helped. Together we have literally taken Human Rights Education around the world ten times. We have educated, uplifted and inspired millions. Celebrations are in order. While we lift our glasses let’s toast to all our new friendships and collaborations now helping to expand Human Rights Education toward a more peaceful world.
Wishing you a wonderful and productive 2014!