"The young people who do this work are amazingly courageous and passionate. Standing witness and taking action helps shine light on issues and problems that need urgent change. We want to be part of the solution and demonstrate to the world that there are alternatives that work , and work well."
--Jennifer Kloes, Executive Director Emeritus
The Need for Our Work
Unfortunately, Rwanda is not an isolated case. Similar stories and testimony can be found in other former zones of conflict around the world – from the streets of Sarajevo to the killing fields of Cambodia, from the rural areas of Nepal to the indigenous highlands of Guatemala. Today we are urgently confronting unspeakable atrocities in Darfur, sectarian violence and foreign occupation in Iraq, ethnically motivated killings in Kenya and severe authoritarian repression in Burma, to name but a few notable cases. Furthermore, in communities across the world, rampant social and economic injustices, including discrimination, poverty, exploitation, the destruction of entire cultures, and ethnic and religious intolerance, are creating an increasingly where new conflicts and wars may be far too easily ignited.
There is an urgent need to better understand why war, mass violence and genocide occur. More importantly, there is a clear need to invest in strategic solutions that aim to prevent such atrocities from occurring in the future. There is also a need to ensure that this knowledge is passed on to the next generation of human rights leaders.
In considering strategic approaches to breaking the cycle of conflict it is particularly important to recognize that -- in Rwanda and elsewhere where lives have been touched by mass violence -- young people have been particularly vulnerable to human rights violations. This is largely due to the fact that youth typically lack the knowledge, skills or opportunities to take action for social change or to stand up against intolerance, discrimination and oppression. Insufficient resources are being invested to provide young people with the knowledge necessary to defend their human rights and the rights of others in their communities. Without such support, young people can become disempowered, frustrated, disengaged, and vulnerable as the injustices pile up around them. They are also more likely to be victimized or join in the violence (just like many young Rwandans who took up machetes).
There is a clear need to direct more energy towards informing young people of their rights in tandem with providing them tools for taking action. Youth must feel confident in their ability be part of the solution by standing up to racism, violence, poverty, genocide, torture and other tough human rights problems, preferably doing so before they escalate into widespread violence. Although some schools and organizations are doing great work to jumpstart youth engagement in human rights activism, there is significant need to create additional opportunities to enable youth to develop and strengthen their activism skills, expand their knowledge on current and past human rights crises, exchange ideas with others and take action to test their ideas and see the immediate results of their efforts. If we don’t empower them now and direct their energies to promoting non-violent social change, we will continue to feed the global cycle of violence, oppression and injustice for generations to come.
Additionally, among those young people who are already taking a stand for change, we must provide additional support. Young frontline activists generally lack sufficient opportunities for training and their work and efforts are largely undervalued. There is a need to help them generate new ideas, connections and strategies that will help them provide the breakthroughs necessary to transform problems that now seem intractable. Investing in youth who are already leaders in their communities, especially those who are working with other youth, also makes sense since they are best poised to share what they’ve learned with many other people, creating a ripple effect. Rather than spreading resources thin by trying to reach every single young person, working with youth leaders is an extremely wise strategy to ensure maximum impact of limited resources.
Motivations and Inspirations
Who We Serve
We also serve youth who are at an
earlier stage in their activism to enable them to
better understand how to use their unique talents to
advance human rights. As a global organization with
programs in a variety of countries around the world,
the youth we work with come from all backgrounds –
from the poorest communities to the wealthiest, from
the “developed” world to the “underdeveloped” world,
and from a wide range of ethnic, national, and
-->Build the skills, knowledge and confidence of youth to raise awareness, take action and work collaboratively on projects to promote and defend human rights;
-->Facilitate meaningful dialogue, enable critical thinking and analysis of complex issues and encourage joint problem solving to address shared human rights concerns;
-->Foster personal and emotional growth by testing boundaries and limitations, reflecting critically on our own lives and cultures, exploring how the choices we make affect others;
-->Build strong personal connections and community among youth activists;
-->Provide positive outlets and opportunities for youth to work to promote human rights; and
-->Create, inspire and nurture both new and existing youth-led projects aimed at promoting and protecting human rights.
Human Rights Framework
GYC : P.O. Box 1342, NY, NY 10159 : (845) 657 - 3273 : firstname.lastname@example.org