A Profile on One of Amnesty’s Human Rights Activists
Amnesty International, a human rights organization founded in 1961, which fights to bring attention to injustices that people face worldwide, is one of the largest, most respected international non-profit organizations. Currently, Amnesty, besides publicizing breaking news events, is also pursuing up to 15 different long-term issues, including putting an end to the death penalty, arms control, and refugee rights.
Packer, a school that prides itself on its activism often develops tunnel vision when it comes to international crises. The refugee crisis, one that is still looming and evergrowing, is one that often falls to the back of students’ minds. It is an easy, however bad, habit to fall into, considering we go to a school with a high academic rigor which also strives to tackle many social issues within our immediate community. Prachi Rao, a member of the team working for Amnesty International, is dedicated to ensuring we do not continue to forget about this crisis, that, although it seems irrelevant to our daily lives, affects us in many ways.
Prachi Rao always knew she wanted to be involved in human rights; from her early work with OakTree, a foundation dedicated to eradicating poverty, to her enrollment in law school with a purpose to protect human rights, it is no surprise that Prachi now works for one of the largest, most respected non-profit human rights organizations in the world.
When she first entered law school, she did so with the objective to obtain the capability to help those who face injustice everyday: “I always knew I wanted to work in human rights. I didn’t know that I wanted to work in grassroots organizing. I originally wanted to work at the U.N. and at an international level, in diplomacy or something in international law. So that was why I got a law degree, initially.”
Prachi’s childhood in Australia was one of the biggest factors contributing to her present career choice. Her parents, “ migrated from a country where they were not given opportunities to achieve their dreams due to structural inequalities, poverty and sexism. Watching them struggle to create a life outside of extreme poverty made me understand that it really is just the lottery of life. So I think it definitely shaped how I understood equality, opportunities and basic human rights.”
Prachi began working for Amnesty International in 2017. Her role as a field organizing coordinator involves working with volunteers who are eager to engage in one of the dozens of campaigns that Amnesty pursues. Reflecting on her experience with volunteers, she thinks volunteering for Amnesty is, “an incredibly rewarding experience, to both learn about international human rights issues, standards and how they also relate to crises at home.”
Prachi added that she tries to encourage volunteers to make the connection between international issues and domestic ones: “The struggles that we see in other countries are not so far from the ones we have in the U.S or in Australia, where I’m from. Volunteering for Amnesty is a very enlightening experience. I also think that the valuable part of being a volunteer is being able to learn that you can make a difference in your own community. … If you can set a goal in mind and accomplish it, and see that things change in your community, or even at a larger scale change, I think that’s incredibly empowering.”
While being able to observe the various empowering experiences of those she works with, particularly those who are newer to the field of human rights, Prachi has a vast array of life changing encounters to choose from.
One such event occurred within her first few months of working at Amnesty. While working on the Family Detention Campaign, one which Prachi continues to assist with and has spoken at Packer about, she remembers seeing a family, who had been put into a family detention center after seeking asylum in the US, win a very long fight to be released. “Watching that play out from the beginning to the end, where I saw this four year old who was part of Amnesty’s campaign, was pretty incredible because that’s something you don’t get to see often. I was lucky enough to be there at the end of a very long battle, so I think that was probably an experience which has shaped my thoughts.” She added that her next steps at Amnesty will hopefully, “be around immigration and displacement because of [her] interaction with those families.”
As mentioned earlier, Prachi works closely with helping to integrate volunteers into Amnesty’s work. Prachi highly encourages anyone to pursue volunteering at Amnesty, adding that,“If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or member of a human rights organizations, I think there’s very little to lose.”
Amnesty welcomes volunteers from all backgrounds, ages and experiences. If you are interested in getting involved with the work that Prachi does, visit www.amnestyusa.org to learn more about how you can help.