“You see an injustice, you address it. Activism to me is to show up, to do.”
When you hear the word “activist,” you may picture a protester, waving a handmade sign or making speeches. But human rights activists do far more than hold demonstrations, and they shoulder enormous risks from holding powerful authorities accountable. In our latest video, A Day In The Life Of An Activist, you’ll meet Swaleh Elber, a human rights activist from Lamu, Kenya.
He always knew he wanted to go to work every day and help people but didn’t realize activism could be that path.
Each day, he works to protect and promote the rights of people in Lamu, on the northeastern coast of Kenya, where government efforts to industrialize the area threaten local culture and livelihoods. By helping his community exercise their rights and connect with local government and others in power, Swaleh is helping them shape a positive, sustainable future.
Yet his work, and that of his fellow activists, face a growing challenge. Human rights defenders in Kenya have made significant progress. But success has brought pushback and mounting restrictions on their work.
Along the Kenyan coast, authorities have exploited begun to exploit national security laws in order to restrict freedom of assembly, expression, and association – making it difficult for organizers like Swaleh to mobilize communities around rights issues.
But with funding and technical assistance from the Fund three Kenyan organizations, Muslims for Human Rights, The Defenders Coalition, and the Civil Society Reference Group are finding ways to push back and keep activists safe.
Together they are supporting the development of activist networks in six counties along the Kenyan coast, while also providing critical skills training to network members. These networks are helping to build collective power amongst grassroots organizers, and are ensuring the work of activists can continue.
Thanks to this support Swaleh, a member of the Lamu network, continues to win the trust of communities and provide his people with the tools and information needed to better advocate for their rights.
Watch and learn more about what a day in the life of an activist is really like.
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