As we draw to the end of 2019 and plan for the festive season, it is an opportune time to consider how we can make a difference in a meaningful way in 2020.
Many around the world will meet up with family and create joyous memories over the festive season. However, the reality is far lonelier for many others. The festive season, in particular, is probably one of the loneliest times of the year for those that are living alone. Or living in fear.
Many people are not privileged, nor able to experience life as we do. Many experience severe challenges including hunger and malnutrition, poverty, homelessness, crime and violence, conflict and war.
At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. Up to 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. And nearly one billion people are unable to read or even sign their names.
Many others suffer from a mental illness like depression or bipolar. Others experience addiction or abuse, or are unable to feed their families, making the festive season far from festive.
World Human Rights Day
As we think about the festive season ahead and plan our lives, goals and dreams for 2020, we are inspired and motivated by World Human Rights Day which is celebrated on 10 December.
This day makes us think about what it means to be human, to care for others and stand up for those whose voices are not heard. World Human Rights Day is dedicated to honouring all who are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
Understanding Human Rights
For someone with a roof over their head, food on their table and a family that loves and supports them, the fundamentals of human rights may be that obvious. Perhaps you are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?
To help better understand what this weighted term refers to, here are a few human rights from the list of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
- Rights are not dependent on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political (or other) opinion, national/social origin, property, birth or status.
- The right to life, liberty and security.
- No one should be held in slavery or servitude.
- No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
- Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression
- The right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
- Everyone has the right to education.
- The right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community. Including the chance to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
For more information on fundamental human rights, you can view the United Nations’ declaration.
Human Rights Achievements in 2019
This past year has been monumental in many ways. Countries around the world have taken huge strides in empowerment and human rights. We share with you some stories we found inspiring:
Taiwan celebrating their first pride
Taiwan has always been more progressive with LGBTQ rights, and have hosted large gay pride parades for years. However, this year Taiwan revelled in their first pride since legalising gay marriage.
Since legalising gay marriage in May this year, more than 2,150 same-sex couples were married in Taiwan. Taiwan is the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage. By doing so, they have set a positive standard for other Asian countries to follow.
Saudi women can travel abroad unaccompanied
The laws in Saudi Arabia have received international criticism for oppressing women. This year, Saudi Arabian women were given the right to travel abroad unaccompanied. This is one of the many new rights that Saudi women can claim.
In addition to this “giant leap for Saudi women”, they can also register a marriage, or the birth of a child, divorce and to obtain family documents. Last year, women in Saudi were legally allowed to drive. We can only hope that these laws for equality continue.
Data is being invested in African countries
For a long time, Africa has been overshadowed by a reputation of being a country that is kept in the dark. Especially regarding knowledge and technological progression. However, more, and more large corporations and nations are beginning to invest in providing internet and technological access to African countries, giving them access to global knowledge.
This can be seen in Google’s recent investment in rolling out WiFi in South Africa’s disadvantaged communities. Another example is the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). DRC has established new systems that will provide more reliable internet access to African organisations and citizens.
Animal cruelty becomes a federal felony in the United States
Although not human, animal rights are in place to preserve the life and wellbeing of other living creatures.
The American senate recently passed a bill that declares animal cruelty as a federal felony. The unanimous decision was made in early November. This is a big step forward in supporting and advocating for those that don’t have a human voice.
The need for change
Yet, despite these incredible achievements, there are still many people struggling to have their voices heard.
Here are some statistics concerning human rights violations:
- Human trafficking is at a high, with an estimated 40-million people enslaved worldwide.
- There are approximately 218 million child labourers in the world.
- All cities with a population in excess of 250,000 report gang activity.
- There are 40 million children in the world under the age of 15 that suffer from abuse and neglect.
- Up to 14,491 hate crimes were committed against people in the United Kingdom because of their sexual orientation in 2018 – 2019.
- Nearly 75% of people living in Venezuela suffer from weight loss and unemployment.
- In 2017 alone, up to 12 journalists and media workers went missing, with another 34,000 people remaining missing.
- In the first half of 2019, up to 159 people died at the hands of torture due to the conflict in Syria.
As we consider these neglected human rights, we are motivated and inspired by some of the icons of our time who stood for human rights and justice for all.
These include the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa. These individuals dedicated their lives to being changemakers and showing compassion and advocating for the rights of others.
Human rights in India
One of these icons, Mother Theresa, moved millions with her kindness, compassion and charitable works. Her humble home is located in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata), the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal.
It is here that the Missionaries of Charity is located and it is where Mother Theresa is most actively remembered for her work and contribution. This is the area where her followers continue to do her work and showcase what she stood for.
Mother Theresa said that “the most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” She was admired for her sense of humanity and how she gave her life to helping others.
Missionaries of Charity
The Missionaries of Charity has spread to 700 missions in 130 countries. They provide a range of assistance including providing soup kitchens, centres for family assistance, orphanages, schools, hospitals and homes for people with diseases such as leprosy, AIDS and tuberculosis.
India, in particular, was a country where she dedicated significant time and energy. Many of the issues she was committed to continue to present real challenges today.
New Delhi is not only the capital of India, but is also home to 22 million inhabitants. It is a hugely, dense city and it is also a city where there is much humanitarian work still needed.
Our Indian arm of our if i could… programme is located in New Delhi. You can choose to do an internship in New Delhi with a specific focus on human rights and social justice issues.
Human rights internship opportunities in New Delhi
There are various ways that you can get involved in making a difference in the bustling city of New Delhi.
Animal rights opportunity
Do you love animals and want to practice your veterinary skills? Perhaps you are passionate about animal rights and want to give back to our furry friends. This organization is a perfect option for you.
This nonprofit, founded by Anjali Gopalan, is an animal sanctuary located on a 2,500-acre piece of land. The green rural area is located in Haryana, an hour outside of the city. It is a space that actively stands against animal cruelty in India. This is an amazing space to work with animals and spend time at this sanctuary, with its fascinating rural landscape and community spirit.
Anjali Gopalan was previously named Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people for her pioneering work in India. This animal-centric organisation is no different. This nonprofit’s mission is to provide a loving and compassionate sanctuary for all abandoned, lonely and sick animals.
If this purpose tugs on your heartstrings, then this could be a great opportunity to give back whilst travelling.
More than 2 million people living in India are HIV positive. This is largely due to the lack of effective education and medical resources. To counter this high incidence, there are organisations in India that work with young people who are affected by HIV.
If your heart is to work with the youth and make a difference in health and sexual rights, then this organisation is an ideal option. This nonprofit serves various Indian communities by responding to the issue of HIV, raising awareness about the virus, providing care and working to remove the negative stigma.
This particular organisation provides services to those who are not only discriminated against because of their HIV status, but also because of their sexual orientation. By reaching out to gays, lesbians and transgender individuals, the programmes provide home-based medical support, education and literacy.
Gender rights opportunities
Gender equality in India covers the areas of health, education, economic and political inequalities. This expands even further to include sexual and reproductive rights in India, many of which are in favour of men.
There are organisations in India that are dedicated to improving the sexual and reproductive rights of those living in India. While abortion in India is legal under certain circumstances, there are still issues surrounding reproductive rights. For example, the ‘son-bias’ which has grown with the rise of technology.
Volunteering or interning at an organisation that works towards implementing freedom from fear, preventing violence against women and other sexual minorities, and educating on reproductive and sexual health problems is a powerful way to make a difference.
In the powerful words of Mahatma Gandhi, the renowned Indian icon, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” How do you plan to shake the world in 2020?
Human rights in South Africa
South Africa has had its own unique journey with human rights. South Africa’s history is a tapestry of apartheid, a spirit of overcoming and unity amidst continuing social and economic challenges.
Perhaps the most iconic figure in South African history is Nelson Mandela. Considered the father of the nation, he’s become the symbol behind the end of apartheid and the voice of equality. As an anti-apartheid revolutionary and philanthropist, Nelson Mandela embodied hope for the nation and paved the journey towards equality.
After spending 27 years in jail, many of which were spent on Robben Island, Nelson Mandela had the following to say, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
As we reflect on this quote we know that respecting human rights is a fundamental freedom intrinsic and essential to each one of us.
Internship opportunities in South Africa
South Africa is a beautiful country rich in culture, heritage and majestic landscapes. Although South Africa has great potential obstacles still exist, which block this potential. These range from lack of housing and sanitation, resource challenges, unequal access to education, economic hardship, poverty and unemployment.
These factors all impact negatively, limiting options for many South Africans and holding them back from realising their full potential. Choosing to intern in Cape Town is a powerful way to get involved in community development, social justice and human rights, and give back to under-resourced communities.
Educational arts opportunity
People communicate and express themselves in different ways. Cape Town, as a vibrant, cultural hub, is a great place to see this artistic expression in action. The ability to express oneself creatively is known to directly impact business and productivity. What better way to spark an entrepreneurial spirit in the youth than through educational arts?
This South African art education organisation believes in the power of art and has developed a curriculum with a critical message component. By combining innovation, activation, collaboration and transformation. Interning at this organisation is a unique way to transform lives and encourage youth at risk to become leaders in their communities.
Nelson Mandela famously said, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
If you are passionate about education and building skills of young people then there are many options to intern in South Africa that may resonate with you.
Various challenging social conditions, such as substance abuse, unemployment and poverty have prevented children from accessing education. These conditions remove the ability to grow knowledge and the necessary skills to progress in the world. In turn, they cause grave harm to young promising South Africans.
As a result, there are several organisations dedicated to educating the youth in South Africa by providing them with guidance and skills. These organisations work in a variety of ways such as community outreach and youth development programs.
You can play a role in moulding the next generation positively by working hands-on with various established nonprofits. These organisations provide a quality standard of basic education through exposure to art, media and after-school activities.
Refugee and migrants opportunities
In 2015 it was reported by UNHCR that approximately 16 million people in Africa were either displaced or forced to flee their home country to find refuge elsewhere.
While South Africa continues working towards equality, neighbouring citizens have fled the harsh environment of their land, for refuge within South African borders. There are organisations in South Africa that strive to empower marginalised refugees and migrants. They do so by fostering sustainable support networks and encouraging personal development.
This influx of refugees places strain on limited resources for South Africans, creating additional challenges for refugees and economic migrants. Partner organisations work with these challenges to improve opportunities and mitigate some of the complexities associated with competition for scarce resources.
These support programs, workshops and training programmes will consider applications with a focus on human rights and social justice-related internships. By providing practical resources and psychological support, you can intern with one of our partner organisations which focus on refugee rights.
Gender rights opportunity
Gender rights cover a wide variety of sectors, including health, education and community empowerment. By oppressing an individual (or group of people) based on their gender, human potential is limited. In South Africa, gender rights are greatly influenced by cultural history. As a result, they have had a devastating impact on health and femicide.
Gender advocacy, community outreach and development are foundational aspects of various organisations that work towards gender rights in the South African community. Various methodologies are used to foster leadership skills, spark mentorship and contribute to noticeable progression with gender rights issues, including HIV/AIDS, violence against women and sexual identity.
Tackling the epidemic of homelessness
Homelessness is another issue that is significantly challenging. People end up living on the streets for various reasons. These reasons include family break-up and divorce, unemployment, abusive home environments, substance abuse, mental illness and other causes. India and South Africa both have significant numbers living on the streets.
Although a very complex term, it is estimated that there are at least 200,000 homeless people in South Africa, probably significantly more. In India, a massive 1,8 million homeless people reside mostly in urban areas. This is a huge violation of the basic human right to adequate housing and shelter.
Homelessness in India
In New Delhi, if i could… has partnered with an organisation that supports youth at risk who have ended up living on the streets.
This organisation actively works towards reducing inequality by running 24 shelter homes across New Delhi. Here, basic essential services are offered (including food, clothes, clean drinking water and sanitation).
This organisation goes one step further and strives to combat the cause of homelessness. They’ve set up an initiative that reforms and rehabilitates juveniles in conflict with the law or involved in drug abuse.
Homelessness in South Africa
In Cape Town, if i could… works with an amazing organisation that really gets to the heart of supporting the homeless. The organisation works tirelessly to bring back dignity, helping the homeless to reintegrate into society. By doing so, the organisation hopes to achieve its purpose of eradicating homelessness.
For example, one way that the organisation works towards empowering homeless women is teaching them to make jewellery as a business to raise funds.
The organisation adopts a social attitude to making a difference. They invite homeless people to enjoy food, music, games, haircuts and various entertainment. They provide basic necessities and space where people living on the streets can relax with dignity.
All events are framed with an attitude of respect where barriers are broken and connections are formed. The organisation is always looking for volunteers and interns who are passionate about making a change in the lives of those struggling with poverty.
Be the change
The if i could… internship programme has a strong focus on social justice and human rights. We offer international travellers and graduates who are committed to social change, community upliftment and doing good an amazing chance to intern with a credible and dedicated nonprofit organisation to make a difference in the lives of others.
We have mentioned just a few options to give you a small taste on how you can make a difference in 2020. There are many other opportunities available that we have not mentioned here. We customise experiences for each traveller, based on your specific needs, your desired learning journey and travel plans.
We encourage you to use this season of goodwill to choose to intern with us. We’ll help you select the ideal organisation to intern within 2020. Make a commitment to give back by signing up for an internship with one of our partner organisations. Take the opportunity to change the life of another and make your 2020 memorable and heart-centred.
It was Mother Theresa who said, “It’s not about how much you do but how much love you put into what you do that counts”.
Speak up for human rights
If making a difference is on your goal list for 2020, then it’s time to sign up to intern abroad with if i could... This is your chance to be the voice of the voiceless. Help to make an impact in helping right the wrongs in the human right’s space. Choose a time and book a skype session or apply here to get the ball rolling.
As John F. Kennedy once profoundly said, “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” Choose to give the gift of your heart, voice and time to those who need it most.