enabling tomorrow's human rights leaders, today
Abebe Gellaw—Washington D.C., United States
Asma Jahangir—Karachi, Pakistan
Mauricio Rodas—Quito, Ecuador
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish—Toronto, Canada
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, often referred to as “the Gaza Doctor” in foreign media, is a Palestinian medical doctor and infertility specialist who has dedicated his life to peace in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abuelaish has become one of the most outspoken, prominent and beloved researchers, educators and public speakers on peace and development in the Middle East. His personal doctrine is that hate is not a response to war; rather, that open communication, understanding and compassion are the tools to bridge the divide between Israeli and Palestinian interests. Dr. Abuelaish believes that the real enemy, in not only Palestinian and Israeli relations but all conflicts, is ignorance, a dehumanization of others, and an inability to understand and communicate with the perceived enemy. He believes the future must be, has to be, about tolerance, dignity, respect and an embracing of our universal humanity and interconnectedness.
Dr. Abuelaish has been presented many awards for his work and activism, including the Stavros Niarchos Prize for Survivorship (2009) and the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award of Canada. In 2010 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Currently, Dr. Abuelaish is an Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Canada.
Patricia Letayf (Tufts University 2011) and Garrett Friedman (Tufts University 2014) spent two month with Dr. Abuelaish at the University of Toronto working to establish and expand his foundation, Daughters for Life. This foundation, established after Dr. Abuelaish published his acclaimed memoir I Shall Note Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity, provides women in the Middle East with scholarships for education and healthcare in order to offer these women the prospect of earning college degrees from Middle Eastern or Western institutions.
Justine Hardy—Srinagar, Kashmir
Justine Hardy is a British journalist, author, and conflict trauma therapist specializing in South Asia, and the Kashmir region in particular. She is the author of six books, ranging from journeys through Tibet, Hindi film, her time working on an Indian newspaper, the realities of orthodox Islam, and war. Hardy has contributed to the BBC, the Financial Times, The Times, Traveler, and Vanity Fair. Her journalism extends from travel in Europe, India, the United States, and the Caribbean, to book reviews and social affairs reporting. Among other topics, she has written articles on the search for peace and the mental health crisis in Kashmir, and on female activists within Islam. She has also been deeply engaged with human rights and development aid work in the Indian subcontinent for more than a decade.
Healing Kashmir is an organization, founded by Ms. Hardy, which focuses on providing mental health treatment in Kashmir, a region that has been in almost constant conflict since 1989. As an intern with Ms. Hardy, Vasundhara Jolly (Tufts University 2013) spent a portion of her 2012 winter break in Srinagar, learning about the complex intersection of mental health and conflict and the conditions of mentally ill patients and their access to services in the Valley. Vasundhara assisted in outreach programs to increase awareness about Healing Kashmir’s programming and the ability of local residents to access the program’s services. Given the sensitivity of the relevant issues, and the general cultural aversion to discussing mental health and trauma, Healing Kashmir’s program assures patients’ anonymity in all of their outreach and treatment.
Vincent Manoharan—Chennai, India
Vincent Manoharan is the Director of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) based in Delhi, India. NCDHR is the leader in providing information and advocacy on behalf of India’s most abused and repressed population, the Dalits. In 2007, Mr. Manoharan and the NCDHR received the Rafto Prize for their efforts in promoting the rights of Dalits and for their assertion that discrimination arising from the caste system violates international human rights law. Mr. Manoharan is also the Founding Trustee of the Cornerstone Trust, a Dalit rights and advocacy organization based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Nithyaa Venkataramani (Tufts University 2013) spent six weeks in her native Chennai working with Mr. Manoharan’s colleagues Rev. Richard Devadoss and Chandra Mohan on improving outreach materials and resource-raising for Cornerstone’s work throughout South India. Cornerstone, while based in Chennai, operates in conjunction with other Dalit rights organizations in Kerala, Malayalam, and Andhra Pradesh states.
Mukhtar Mai—Multan, Pakistan
Mukhtar Mai is internationally renowned for her fight against gender based violence in Pakistan. In 2002, Mukhtar was ganged raped in her village of Meerwala, Pakistan. Instead of committing an honor suicide, as was expected, Mukhtar took a stand and brought her case to the Pakistani government. She was awarded a modest sum as retribution, which Mukhtar use to found a girl’s school in her village. Mukhtar Mai’s overarching message is “ending oppression through education”, and she hopes that the status of women in Pakistan and all of South Asia will continue to rise as the women become active, educated members of society.
Kelly Holz (Tufts University 2010) spent a month at the Mukhtar Mai School for Girls, assisting in curriculum design, providing English language training for the teachers, and working to design a website for the Mukhtar Mai Women’s Organization. In July 2010, devastating floods hit central Pakistan, and Mukhtar, along with Kelly and other staff, used her resources to provide temporary shelter and food until the floods subsided and the villagers could return to reconstruct their homes.