blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff
By Suprita Datta (GYC Rwanda Jan 2015)
Human rights, unlike other aspects of policy and politics, have impacts that can be measured and quantified. How many kids are receiving an education? How much food does each family get? What is the rate of employment? Do people have skills that generate income? Tell us about the quality of the air we are breathing. Are there parasites in our drinking water? Are there enough pills at the pharmacy to deal with our ailments? How much money do you need to build a new school? How much funding does UNHCR receive? How many refugees are being resettled? Where are they going? Why are the numbers so few? These are questions with answers and numbers. These are the questions that make sense.
What we cannot measure are the consequences of the absence of human rights. How devastating is social isolation? What can we do to help our younger brothers and sisters? When does our burdens become your burdens? Where are the lines and boundaries and demarcations of your capacity to care? Let’s have a discussion on being human. Let us agree on our humanity. Next, let us have a discussion on our rights. Let us agree on the rights we have. Then, let us talk about why and how. Why did we fail you? When did Us become We and You become Them? Tell me how to continue to have hope. Tell me what I should tell my younger brothers and sisters.
Finally, let us talk about loss. Let us talk about the loss of human potential at Kiziba. Let us talk about their intelligence and drive and work ethic. Let us reflect on society’s loss. 50 cents per refugee per day. 10% resettlement. 12 kg of corn per refugee per month. 6 years of education. 18,900 refugees at Kiziba. 75,000 refugees in Rwanda. 8 countries willing to take them. Behind every number is a decision. But when did elements of empathy, compassion, justice, and humanity get left out of these decisions?
Perhaps it is our job, as Turikumwe youth, to be making these decisions. Perhaps the goal, now that we have had these numbers ravage our minds and unsettle our souls, is to be in a position where we can revisit these decisions. The refugee youth asked us for advocacy but they deserve more from us. Not simply because it is the right thing to do. But because to deny them is a burden my conscience cannot bear. There is no one answer or one way to for us to be advocates and be active. But because Turikumwe!, because we are together, you and I, us, we can figure it out.