Voices for Human Rights: Abonti Nur Ahmed, National Youth Organizer

I was born in the US and raised as most first-generation American children were, with the hope that North America could solve all our problems. But it didn’t take long for my family to realize that this was simply untrue. Hard work rarely ever led to results and whenever it did, my parents were accused of “stealing jobs”. In 2008 my family moved from the US to Canada. It is strange knowing that no matter where you seemed to go, these same experiences follow you around.

I had always known where I stood when it came to “controversial issues” (still can’t believe that human rights are controversial). It did not feel though that I had the resources or knowledge to object the injustices that were around me, let alone the world.

One of my friends had been volunteering for a while with Amnesty International when she invited me to their first Youth Café in Toronto. I was reluctant to go, assuming that I would be practically alone. As I settled in, it was anything but true. Around me I found peers excited and determined to not only learn about injustices but also to fight against them. It was exhilarating seeing and hearing other young people feeling as strongly as I do. Later that night I had expressed my interest in joining the organization and honestly, it was one of the major points in my life. 

I became a National Organizer with Amnesty International Canada. As a National Organizer, I was able to help plan and organized events that shed light on serious human rights issues. Most recently I had been a part of a team of around 4-5 people, and together we facilitated a public event shedding light on false stereotyping surrounding those who seek refuge. That night, we used various forms of art, words and actions to raise awareness and engage young people into taking action.

One of my favourite things as an organizer is how versatile the position is. I remember when I first joined, I was afraid to voice my opinions, I wasn’t used to it. So I opted to take the notes for the meetings. As I began feeling more comfortable, I took on planning roles, sometimes proposing my own initiatives. It sparked the leadership in me, a skill that I wasn’t even aware I possessed.

Through Amnesty, I also found my interest in social media, and in how we can utilize it to raise awareness about issues and to engage people to take action. The support I always felt pushed me to try things I may have not otherwise tried. Through Amnesty I found an outlet to express myself and to be a part of the change I want to see in the world.