Wednesday, October 12, 2016

For Justice, For Peace

I've always had a passion for homeless people and animals. I used to cry when I saw someone sleeping on the street and urged my mom to buy a meal for them. Homeless people are often disregarded as lazy or addicts, which is not only false but also unfair. In my mind, when I see someone in need, the question of what they will do with my spare money doesn't even register in my head. I just want to see a world where a safe and loving place to live isn't a privilege, but a human (and animal) right. My passion for the homeless has led me to a devotion toward social justice and humanitarian work. Following along Bernie Sanders' political movement opened my eyes to the issues of mass incarceration, unnecessary war, marriage equality, LGBTQ rights and environmental concerns. I've become extremely invested in justice and equality for all, which has sparked my interest in humanitarian and criminal law. I discovered many different organizations that are devoted to the same causes as I am and they are all worthy of your support.

The Innocence Project

One of the greatest injustices in this day and age is the imprisonment of innocent people. America's democracy is supposed to house one of the greatest legal systems, but that could not be further from the truth. The Innocence Project is comprised of legal experts and lawyers who work around the clock to exonerate wrongly convicted people currently in prison. The organization was founded in 1992 and uses DNA testing to save those who are innocent, yet locked behind bars. To date, TIP has exonerated 344 people including 20 who served time on death row. Without TIP, hundreds of innocent people would die in prison before seeing the light of freedom.

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee is a global humanitarian aid organization that helps people affected by natural disasters and violence regain stability and safety. They provide people with financial resources, education, healthcare and safety during times of extreme crisis. Currently, they along with their legal assistance and partner organizations are helping the people of Aleppo and others fleeing the dangers of ISIS.

Equal Justice Initiative

I began to research the statistics of mass incarceration after reading "The New Jim Crow": Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. The book is incredible and it changed my life. The Equal Justice Initiative works to end excessive punishment and mass incarceration, combat racial and social injustice and protect everyone's basic human rights. The organization also helps to exonerate prisoners and fight to end poverty and discrimination. If there's any group that I would like to get involved with, it's this one.

College Guild

While I was discussing my newfound love for criminal justice with my best friend Kaiʻolu, she suggested I volunteer for College Guild. College Guild is a non-profit based in Maine, which provides non-traditional education to prisoners through volunteer teachers. Their aim is to decrease the recidivism rate and engage with the prisoners in a healthy academic way. As a volunteer, I would sign up to read through and edit an incarcerated person's homework to provide feedback for them. The program gives the prisoners a chance to pursue educational tasks and increase their chance of easy socialization back into society.

The UN Refugee Agency

A global crisis facing Middle-Eastern citizens, specifically Syrians, is the threat of war and ISIS. Many people have fled their homelands in search of a safe place to live. They have left jobs, families and the home they once knew to seek passage on a rubber boat, in the back of a container or on foot from country to country. The refugees only want one thing: safety. The UNHCR provides asylum, financial support, advocacy, education and protection for those who simply want to take back control of their lives and give their families a home.

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