Voices for Human Rights: Rana Abdelhalim, National Youth Organizer

My passion for human rights activism first stemmed from my interest in advocacy and philanthropy at a young age. In my early childhood, up to the age of 11, I was living in my home country, a developing country. During this time, it was not difficult to see the socioeconomic disparities that existed within my community and the injustices that were continually committed against people who didn’t even have a voice. Human rights activism was often interpreted as subversive and activists were often punished for their efforts. For this reason, many people within my community resorted to philanthropy by giving back to those less fortunate than themselves. Growing up my family would donate clothes to charitable organizations and pass out sandwiches and meat to those struggling, particularly during Eid and Ramadan. These experiences instilled in me the importance of using my privilege to support and uplift others.

Later on, when I attended elementary and secondary school in Canada, I become involved with social justice advocacy at my school and community as well as becoming part of my schools’ environmental club where we raised funds for environmental initiatives and advocated for environmental issues. It wasn’t until grade 7 that I had first heard about Amnesty International (AI). I recall learning about AI as a thrilling experience as they were advocating for many issues the people of my home country, particularly peaceful activists and journalists, were going through. It was exciting to see the struggles of my people heard on a global platform and advocated for! Since then, I continued to follow Amnesty’s work on their website and sign AI petitions and open letters.

In the summer of 2020, I became aware through social media of AI Canada’s National Organizers Program to which I applied and was accepted to. So far, as a National Organizer, I have been able to participate in letter writing campaigns in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement, in support of the Urgent Action case of Pastor Steven Tendo, as wel as, most recently, help co-facilitate a Climate Justice webinar by youth for youth. I believe letter writing campaigns have had the greatest impact on me as an activist with AI so far. This is simply because I believe those issues are incredibly important and need to be addressed. Additionally, I find it quite liberating to be able to write a letter peacefully critiquing our governments without fear or hesitation. I look forward to continue volunteering with AI and to learn new skills that will help make me a better person and activist.