My Assignment in Gaza

September 17, 2010

I didn’t expect to feel joy in the middle of an area that’s been divided by struggle for decades.

But there they were – a group of girls, like rays of light, bringing the history of human rights to life through art and storytelling.

(c) Amnesty International

It was December 10th – Human Rights Day – and a girls’ school located in Deir El-Balah, a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, was hosting a play and an art show. I was in Gaza on assignment for the United Nations and was honored to be invited to speak.

In Gaza – as well as hundreds of other global human rights hot spots like China and Myanmar (also called Burma), Amnesty International’s work at its core is about people – the people we aim to protect, the people who believe in us and the people who lift our cause up for the world to witness, and act on.

While visiting the school in Gaza, I realized that these young girls represented all of those qualities. Will you stand up for human rights along with them?

So far, we are more than halfway to our goal of 10,000 pledges by September 30th. Until then, generous donors will match your gift dollar-for-dollar, up to $300,000.

During the events that day, I was captivated as the girls took turns re-creating the different articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

I am the right to education.
I am the right to health.
I am the right to equality.

But it was the artwork of a student that was perhaps most remarkable.

She had painted her vision of key moments and heroes in human rights history. There, next to Gandhi, Buddha, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. was the birth of Amnesty International in May of 1961.

This is what Amnesty means to girls in Gaza: a beacon of hope in a war-torn area of the world. And today, I hope you will consider being a part of this legacy.

Join before Sept. 30 and generous donors will double your gift.

I left Deir al-Balah with a renewed sense of purpose. Our work as human rights defenders is not done until the Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for children in Gaza and everyone struggling for freedom and justice.

So I pass the candle to you. We must never let it fade. Together we are hope. We are light. We are Amnesty International.