Last year my students and several staff members of my school participated in the Speak Truth to Power video contest sponsored by RFK center and NYSUT. In working on the video, our entire vocational training and special education center came together. The experience allowed our students to see a world beyond our classrooms and beyond our community. In addition several of the social justice lessons were valuable in helping my students to understand more about themselves and about the power of one. Through the project we were able to create a sustainable craft room that can be used both as at type of art therapy and as an aid for raising funds for charities. In the end, I can firmly state that without this opportunity several students may have abandoned their education. The contest and the curriculum became a very bright and positive spot at our center.
I had the privilege of serving as the Director of the Center for Human Rights for several years. The RFK Center is carrying out the impossible task of carrying on Robert Kennedy's unfinished work. His spirit of walking with those in the midst of struggle drives the human rights work. They do not work on the easy or most popular issues and they understand that change does not happen in a year or two, but requires a resource and time-intensive commitment over several years. The partnerships are genuine- combining the expertise and power of the activists with the RFK Center's access, resources and knowledge. Together, the RFK Center and its partners transform human rights situations, empower communities, and often save lives. Individual communities from Haiti to Chad have benefited from this work and the global human rights movement has been enriched by the RFK Center's example.
I am a lawyer and human right advocate from Chad. I win RFK human right award in 2004 and it has chaged my life. the award has raised my profile in Chad and internationnaly. For six years I received RFK technical support that allowed me to establish the first Public Interest Law center in Chad to helppoor people have access to justice. RFK Center has also helped me meet organize advocacy for the best use of oil money and for peace in Chad. Even when my time is I continue to get support from the RFK center and that makes my life and my work a lot easier.
In 2011, I received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Human Rights. For a year now, I have been working with the RFK center on advancing LGBT rights in Uganda. Within this period together with the center, I have been able to reach religious groups , members of congress, artists & human rights groups in the United States to support my struggle in Uganda. Most importantly when, RFK center visited Uganda I was able to start a dialogue with Ugandan members of parliament political leaders & key members of civil society, some have come out to support my struggle. This has also opened doors for the LGBT struggle in Uganda and my organization Sexual Minorities Uganda - SMUG in creating a dialogue with Ugandan politicians and getting support from more NGOs in Uganda. This kind of work is greatly helping me and my colleagues in Uganda to fight the anti homosexuality bill that was introduced in the Ugandan parliament this bill would criminalize homosexuality to life in prison and death in some instances if passed into law.
I have been working on human rights for more than 35 years, most recently as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. At the end of 2011 I was asked to do an in-depth evaluation of the RFK Center's human rights program. What I found was a unique, powerful and highly efffective model of working in genuine partnership with individuals and organizations that are on the front lines of some of the most challenging human rights situations in the world. The RFK Center establishes a long term relationship with these couragenous human rights defenders by listening carefully to their needs and developing a mutally agreed on action plan to help them in winning concrete victories for advancing human rights in their countreis and regions. The RFK Center, based on years of experience and a rich set of contacts and skills is able to offer each of their partners traning opporuniteis, the capacity to bring their demands to the attention of the U.S. government and congress, media attention that offers then both protection and a tool for advancing their objectives, and the mobilization of peoole around the world on their behalf. Through these partnerships the RFK Center has helped to free and protect human rights defenders, bring the violatiors of human rights to justice, establish policies that fufill the rights and improve the lives of thousands of people, and strengthen organizatations and movements that will continue to advance human rights long after the RFK Center has moved on to other partnerships, creating the ripples of hope of which Bobby Kennedy spoke and for which he lived. I have seen first hand the power given to those struggling for their rights in knowing that they are united with a global organization that is using all its resources to help them win their fight for freedom and dignity. I can honestly say that in all my years I have not seen any orgnaization better at working with and contributing to groups on the front lines of the human rights battle. This expereince of working in depth with people who are giving their all for human rights informs every part of the RFK Center including their important efforts to educate the public and inspire young people to follow the example of human rights defenders around the world by becoming involved in their own communities. In this way the RFK Center's work is not only life changing for those who suffer directly from the violations of human rights but all who are in a postion to defend those rights. I can not rate thier work highly enough.
I enthusiastically recommend the RFK Center for the 2012 Top-Rated Nonprofits List. The RFK Center is a well-established organization with a more than 40 year history of supporting the work of individuals who speak out against injustice, often at great personal risk, to make the world more fair, just and peaceful. Whether honoring authors and journalists in the U.S. for documenting and reporting injustice or partnering with human rights advocates from around the world, the RFK Center first brings attention to the issues and then partners with advocates and organizations to help end problems such as discrimination, unfair labor practices and child labor, violence against women, lack of access to health care and many other societal problems. Robert Kennedy believed that together individuals could make a difference in the world and that we all must try. The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights is an organization dedicated to this vision and has had great success over the years improving the lives of people in all corners of the world.
My name is Vera Stremkovskaya, I am human right defender from Belarus, who lives now in Sweden. I am one of the human rights defenders fI took part in many events of the STTP, as well as presentation of the book in USA and Qatar, exhibitions of the portraits and educational program of the RKF in Europe, Italy that year, as a speaker. I think the activity of the RKF is very important, and mostly in a field of the promotion and defending human rights in the world. After the information about human right defenders and there praktikal experiences was collected and summarized in the book, very important to share that information now with everybody who working ore study in a field of human rights. There for I was make the exibition from the book and infromation about RFK and STTP on the day of the human right in Göteborg that year, on September 8, 2012, and I will continue to share that information throught the exibition about STTP and RKF in the Hissingen Lbrary in Göteborg from the november 13, 2012. I am very much appreciate the RKF office in Washington, and RKF office in Europe for there help with the organisations of that programs and exibition, with the matherials they had sent to me and all information I was provided by them. I am very much happy to participate in a STTP and RKF programs in Sweden, as well as presentation of the book which will be in October 26 in Stockholm and the Bingolotto event for human rights and STTP in May 2012., in Stockholm. I think it is very important activity. And I am glad i can take part in that activity now. I enclose a few photos from our exibition in Göteborg, on October 8, 2012, with the collegues from the Cultural department of the lundby city Göteborg, and more photos from the educational program on May 2012 in Italy, RKF in Europa, and STTP and Bingolotto event in Stockholm on May 2012.