Saturday, May 18, 2013 — The Council on International Relations in Santa Fe arranged a meeting between Santa Fe NOW and a group of nine visiting Human Rights workers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Dana, Janet and I (Janiece) only had one hour with these remarkable young people, but what an experience. Some, if not all, of these people live and work in dangerous conditions every day for the rights of women and all oppressed peoples in their country.
I spoke with Ms. Shazia Hina from Pakistan who said that she started her own agency, Pakistan Rural Development Program, but her family regularly asks her to quit as they fear for her life. Of her successes, she said she helped to get a school re-opened in a rural area where the building was being used as a barn for years by the landlord. As I understand it, the government stepped in to ensure the school opening. She said many things are changing for the better, albeit slowly.
I spoke with Jafrul Hasan Sharif from Bangladesh who works for the human rights of workers, such as those who were victims of the recent clothing factory building collapse. Most workers in the clothing factories are women who are often the sole support for their families, including parents, he told me.
For me, it was an emotional conversation with those around me, whose passion, kindness and compassion virtually radiated from their hearts. I feel both hopeful and hopeless after spending time with these remarkable people. But I am forever touched by the experience.