Growing up in a developing African country of Malawi, human rights was not something i had heard of, especially for the poor and the underprivileged. I often saw and heard of injustices being inflicted upon the poor and the underprivileged, yet no one seemed to do anything about it. I would often ask my father why the privileged violated the underprivileged and they were not held accountable for their actions. He did not have a lot to say about the topic because he did not know a lot about human rights himself. I remember a lot of instances that the public would talk of how a person, or a family had been violated, and a few days later, everybody would seem to forget about it. I never forgot because the injustices troubled me.
One of the instances I remember very well is when I was seventeen year’s old. I was at my older sister’s house for the holidays. One afternoon, my sister’s former neighbor’s gardener’s wife came to her house crying, her five year old son had been killed by an over speeding car. It was being driven by one of the wealthy men in the city. She sobbingly told us how the man had unsympathetically told her and her husband that they would never win a case against him if they took him to court. He said he would get the best lawyer, while they could not afford one. I stood in total disbelief. I was hurt and angry. I was amazed at how someone could take a young child’s life and have no sympathy on the parents. The poor mother’s hurt, loss, and helplessness in her eyes was unbearable. I knew she did not stand a chance of winning the case. I wished i was a part of a nonprofit organization of lawyers that would have helped her regardless of her financial status. I was very frustrated to see how easily someone could get away with a crime.
Around 1999, human rights groups started forming in Malawi. A lot started to change, underprivileged civilians started to get help. My passion to defend them was stirred up. In 2002, I came to the United States of America. My stay here has broadened my horizons on how western countries are active in human rights. I have realized that although a lot of African countries are now active in human rights, they still have a lot to learn from the western world. For example, although, the underprivileged in African countries are being defended, most of them do not know that they have a constitution that is supposed to protect them. They usually find out about their rights after they have been victimized.
Some of the courses i have studied at Houston Community College include Psychology and Sociology. These have greatly improved my understanding and interaction with people of different social and cultural backgrounds. In addition, volunteering at Depelchin Children’s Center, a home for abused and orphaned children, has stirred my desire to educate others on human rights. I have been encouraged by children at the home as young as six years old at the way they understand their rights. This is something I had never seen or heard of in a lot of African countries.
Also my work experience at Rise n Shine in Houston, a diverse city, has increased my communication skills with people from different backgrounds, and has helped my leadership skills. I have become more articulate, more able to resolve conflicts and answer questions about filing taxes to avoid any legal issues, and be to maximize our customers tax returns.
My plan is to pursue a degree in law and then continue to a masters in human rights. Since most African countries have a British education system, the knowledge i will acquire from obtaining these degrees will be very instrumental in starting an organization that will defend the rights of the underprivileged in African nations and also in educating them their rights regardless of their age and economic status.