Talking human rights for Blog Action Day

Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to write about one important global topic on the same day. Over 25,000 blogs have taken part in Blog Action Day since 2007. This year’s topic is Human Rights.

The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on December 10, 1948. There are 30 articles in the declaration, which came about as a result of and reaction to the experience of World War II.

With the creation of the United Nations, international communities came together to ensure that the atrocities that happened during WWII did not happen again. Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the committee that drafted the UDHR. Read more about the history of the UDHR

To celebrate the day and start a conversation about human rights, I decided to share three short stories from Opportunity International that illustrate what happens when you give people these important rights. Opportunity International provides microfinance loans, savings, insurance and training to over five million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world.

No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property (Article 17)

A guerilla war in rural Colombia drove Federico Rodriguez Bastos out of his hometown and forced him to abandon his land. He can’t return because he fears for his life. Instead, Federico received a loan from Opportunity International in Bogota to build a woodworking shop to make curtain reels and buttons. He and his wife now employee several others in their community who have migrated from the country to the city to find a better life.

photo credit: Opportunity International

photo credit: Opportunity International

Everyone has the right to education (Article 26)

Justine Nassali lives in outside of Kampala, Uganda with her 11 children. After her sister died of AIDS, she also took in her 3 children. In 2000, Justine launched a piggery business with two pigs in her backyard. She joined Opportunity International in 2002 in hopes of growing her business. Today, Justine has almost 40 pigs—7 at home and 30 more in the village. She was also able to open an electrical retail shop where her son now works. Thanks to Opportunity’s Education Finance program, Justine has also received education finance loans to ensure that each of her 14 children has a bright future.  The loans helped Justine pay educational expenses such as textbooks, uniforms and school tuition fees.

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services. (Article 25)

Ana Celia Acuña and her seven siblings grew up in La Laguna, often without enough to eat, and she worked from a very young age to pay her own school fees. Ana says her parents instilled in her a sense of independence, and also responsibility to give back to her community. Ten years ago, in order to survive, Ana and 20 other determined women formed La Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) Trust Group to access loans from Opportunity International. Most bought goods such as oil and rice to sell by the roadside or in front of their homes. Then Opportunity International approached them to work on critical issues in the community, including the need for potable water.

Ana and her neighbors had been without drinking water in their homes for many years because of an earthquake. They would travel 7 km to fill their barrels at a monthly cost of about $24 for 3 cubic meters of water. Ana was determined to get things done and became the first woman to join the community cooperative that managed these issues. That’s when things started happening. Opportunity International lent the cooperative $10,000, payable over 10 years, to dig a well 600 meters deep. Today, the water project is self-sustaining and Ana says the improvement in their lives is remarkable. They save so much time and money now, and the water is far superior to what they were getting before.

These stories illustrate that, when given the chance, humans can accomplish just about anything. 

this post was also published on anotherjennifer.com

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