On World Humanitarian Day we celebrate the people who risk their lives in humanitarian service. This year’s theme is ‘One Humanity’. The UN has called it a call for global solidarity with the more than 130 million people around the world who need humanitarian assistance to , and an acknowledgement of those working on the ground to make it happen.
None of our work would be possible without our staff, who work in some of the most volatile environments to help communities rebuild after conflict. 95% of our field staff are locals who have a deep understanding of the culture of the areas in which we work. By empowering and training local people, we ensure our work fits the needs of the community, earning the trust of those most in need while working within cultural structures and traditions.
As a registered law firm in both Uganda and Afghanistan, we provide legal access to children and women in communities where it is otherwise severely limited. Recently the two teams came together to compare programming and share best practices. Although each country is different, there are always lessons to learn and pass on.
While both countries offer similar services, each has important cultural, religious, and political nuances, and requires different interventions.
For example, in Afghanistan the law is highly influenced by religion and Sharia law. Our legal work includes helping women who have been imprisoned for moral crimes, such as running away from domestic abuse and forced marriage. This is unique to our Afghan program and is not seen in Uganda.
Our staff members from both countries identified attitudes towards Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) as the greatest challenge in securing justice, and were able to share strategies to change these attitudes. Through learning from their colleagues in Afghanistan, the Uganda team was inspired to incorporate female leadership groups, as the existing outreach initiatives take place within male-dominated communal structures. Meanwhile, the Afghan team plans to adapt Uganda’s community-based dialogue model.
When asked what the most positive outcome of their meeting was, Dana, our legal representative from Uganda replied that it was confirmation that “despite conflicts and harsh laws that hardly respect human rights – especially women and children’s rights – access to justice can still be advocated for and achieved through dedicated, hard-working, confident and strong human rights advocates and activists”.
With our local staff by our side, we continue to work towards a more peaceful and just world, listening to the needs of local communities and responding with interventions that are tailored specifically for them.
This World Humanitarian Day, take a stand as One Humanity by making a donation to support the extraordinary communities we work with.