I have been thinking for a long time to pen down my experience with Amnesty International. Finally, it is here.
Volunteering takes a lot of time, but it can be extremely rewarding, especially if you can find an organization that deals with the issue, you’re passionate about and provides you a platform to use the skills you’ve gained. Amnesty International was the one for me.
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people in over 150 countries and territories who campaign to end abuses of human rights. Through detailed research and determined campaigning, Amnesty helps fight abuses of human rights worldwide. With more than 2.2 million members and subscribers worldwide, they conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.
Like most things in life, I actually did what my heart says. This taught me more than reading or learning about it. Amnesty International gave me an opportunity to gain experience and unparalleled insights into human rights. Fundraising, research and writing, public speaking, and program implementation – all these practical skills are incredibly valuable to NGOs working in human rights and beyond. Besides the incredible hands-on experience I gained, volunteering abroad also helped me develop valuable contacts in the sector that could lead to job opportunities in the future.
Are you interested in working for women’s rights? Or do you want to pursue environmental justice, economic development or refugee rights? Do you want to work on legal and policy issues, or would you prefer to do advocacy, marketing, or case management? Yes, this field is an ocean. One can be interested in multiple domains, but it is important to think realistically about where and how your skills might be able to make a real impact.
I worked at Amnesty as an early career human rights professional. I was a campaigner and an activist. I was to identify human rights violations and to claim, defend and promote the human rights of refugees. Refugees have human rights like any other being. Worldwide, battles are growing. Countries are slamming doors on the faces of the refugees who seek international protection. I challenged misconceptions, prejudices and discriminatory attitudes to change the behaviours towards refugees and asylum seekers. My campus leadership skills, event planning and fundraising was immediately relevant to work at Amnesty. Learning from experts, Amnesty International challenged me to think critically and interact with participants to create change. I discovered how to be a part of the solution to empower one and all.
The use of social media by the youth has changed the way in which human rights atrocities are highlighted and broadcasted to the world to see, creating greater accountability and fighting impunity. The youth are often the catalyst for change because of their commitment to the cause which they are fighting for. Personal branding can be a powerful tool in one’s journey towards working in international aid and human rights. Whatever it is you’re interested in, grow your skills and experience in that area – but be aware of the importance of staying open to other possibilities. This could also include moving into a different area of human rights work, accepting a lower-than-expected salary or often being required to relocate to a new city or country. However, the rewarding feeling you get and the smiles you see on peoples’ faces, knowing you contributed even slightly to their happiness, is worth every moment.
I hope that my story will provide you with some insight into the importance of advocating for equality and dignity for all. I hope every reader chooses to promote the creation of a strong and vibrant human rights culture worldwide. Nelson Mandela, rightly said “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”