3 July, 2023
We are thrilled to announce our groundbreaking collaboration with Humans of Uganda for the #DefendersStories campaign, where we shed light on the compelling human interest stories of human rights defenders across Africa. This unique partnership allows us to capture and share the remarkable experiences, struggles, and triumphs of these courageous individuals who dedicate their lives to defending the rights of others. Through captivating narratives and powerful visuals, we aim to raise awareness, foster empathy, and inspire action, uniting people across the globe in the pursuit of justice and equality. Together, we strive to amplify the voices of these unsung heroes, sparking a movement that celebrates and supports human rights defenders and their invaluable contributions to society.
<br /> In the captivating tale of Zodwa Mkhonta, a fearless human rights defender, her journey began amidst the Swaziland of her childhood, where she was the fourth of five sisters. Raised in a rural haven under the liberal guidance of her grandfather, the local chief, Zodwa imbibed courage from an early age, attending community meetings and daring to voice her thoughts. Her path led her to a scholarship in the UK during the era of Margaret Thatcher, where she was ignited by the fervor of union leader Mr. Scargil and the miners' protests.<br />
Escaping the clutches of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Liberia was just the beginning of Lisa Tenneh's remarkable journey. Growing up in a tranquil pastoral home, where the serenity of Christian values enveloped her, she was destined for a life quite different from what she encountered. Within the confines of her own safe haven, a monstrous ordeal unfolded as she became a survivor of a haunting sexual violation. Instead of succumbing to despair, this trauma fueled her fiery determination to stand up for justice and champion equality in a world marred by injustice.<br /> Lisa's voice became a rallying cry for social justice and human rights, a beacon guiding others out of the darkness of exploitation and abuse. While her own harrowing story remained concealed, she embarked on a mission, dedicating a decade to breathing life into the silenced tales of survivors who suffered the agony of sexual violence and human rights violations. With courage as her compass, she confronted the daunting task head-on, advocating for change and turning her own pain into purpose.
This captivating story takes us on a tumultuous journey through the life of Majid Maali, someone born and raised in the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan. From his upbringing amidst conflict to his time as a child soldier, the horrors of war shaped his perspective and fueled Majid's passion for human rights advocacy. Despite facing arrests, torture, and the need to flee their homeland, he helped established an organization to support victims of human rights violations and fight for peace and justice. His recent return to Sudan was met with more violence, prompting a harrowing escape. His story stands as a testament to resilience, the power of music during times of darkness, and an unwavering commitment to making a difference.
One such story is that of Hassan Shire, our Chairperson and Executive Director of DefendDefenders, whose passion for human rights was ignited by his uncle, Dr Ishmail Juma'le, Somalia's lone human rights lawyer. Despite facing imprisonment multiple times, Dr Juma'le's unwavering activism inspired Hassan to become a conscious student leader, advocating for democracy and the rule of law. Forced to flee his home country due to violence, Hassan's harrowing experiences led him to establish the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (DefendDefenders). His story exemplifies the courage and determination of countless human rights defenders, whose tireless efforts continue to inspire and shape a more just world