Student portrait: “The course was eye opening to the brutal and sad reality of the world’s growing refugee crisis” – Nesha a lawyer from Trinidad and Tobago

Nesha, a learner who has taken our free online course on the rights of refugees, shares with us her journey to defending human rights, the impact the course has had on her, and the actions she is taking to defend the rights of refugees.

Nesha, a 32 year old woman from Trinidad and Tobago, was a successful lawyer for eight years before taking our refugee rights course which prompted her to change her life path.

She grew up in a loving family who played a critical role in the development of her sense of empathy and a duty to give back and assist those in need, ultimately inspiring her career today and her dedication to defending human rights. She is an active member of a number of non-governmental organizations, where she focuses her work on helping young people who have had a difficult upbringing avoid a life of crime, helping others in getting to know and understand their rights, and marches for women’s rights and empowerment. She is currently a member of her university’s student refugee assistance organization which partners law students with pro bono attorneys to provide direct legal services to refugees through the International Refugee Assistance Program.

After she saw the media coverage of the war in Syria and the refugee crisis, she was determined to find a way to use her voice to help those whose voices had been silenced. During her research, she found a Huffington Post article online that mentioned Amnesty’s refugee rights course, and she registered immediately.

Although the course was spread over 4 weeks, I finished it in 1 weekend. Once I started I couldn’t stop, it was addictive.

Nesha Abiraj

She enjoyed the case studies the most, because they raised her awareness of the journeys of refugees, and debunked many falsities that had depicted a very different picture of refugees. Through the case studies she could not help but feel a deep sense of empathy towards the people who are often described as “the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized”. This made her look at her own context and the situation of refugees in her country and put herself in their shoes.

The course was so eye opening…The case studies kept me thinking. What if that was me? What if I was on that boat? What if that was my family? I knew I would want someone to do the same for me or my relative if I had to flee the only home I knew, with just the clothes on my back.

Nesha Abiraj

After finishing the course, Nesha decided to leave her career as a civil lawyer, and go on to pursue higher studies in an area of law which she had never delved into before. She knew that if she wanted to make any real change, education and awareness were key, and she credits Amnesty’s refugee course as the tool that helped her understand this. She is currently a student at Northwestern University pursuing a Masters in International Human Rights Law.

I couldn’t just shut the door or put the course aside, I had to do something. I felt very strongly about it… the course inspired me on a path to take action and I just couldn’t turn my back knowing what I knew now about refugees.

Nesha Abiraj

She plans on doing more work with refugees and asylum seekers in the future, hoping to team up with international human rights organisations to ensure that human rights are protected everywhere.

If you too would like to know more about the rights of refugees and how to take action to support them, register for our free online course now.

You can also take our latest human rights defenders free online course to explore how defenders mitigate risk, take action to defend human rights, and how you too can use your voice to promote human rights.