The University of Minnesota chapter of Physicians for Human Rights recently finished our Human Rights Awareness week. We invited speakers from many different backgrounds to share their experience and expertise on various human rights issues. Here is a breakdown of what we did this week:
Monday: Our speakers were a volunteer and a doctor affiliated with the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis/St. Paul. They shared information about the Center, who they serve, what services they provide, and success stories of their care.
Tuesday: Bukola Oriola from the Civil Society came and shared her story about being a victim of human sex trafficking. She had no slides or major presentation material…only her story. I think it may have been the most powerful speaker we invited. Nothing educates or opens eyes like a real-life account of injustice.
Wednesday: U of MN’s Dr. Kirk Allison with the Health and Human Rights department spoke about the Minnesota Refugee populations, their health care issues, and barriers to healthcare.
Thursday: Hosted a joint lecture with our Infectious Disease Interest Group. The speaker described several infectious diseases in pediatric patients that have simple and inexpensive medications, and yet lead to death in many underserved countries and communities.
Thursday evening: We hosted a benefit for the Center for Victims of Torture. We catered food, displayed art from a local artist that photographs diversity and poverty, and remarks from another member of Center for Victims of Torture. It was such an elegant evening. I believe that everyone in attendence were truly moved by the unfortunate situations of the patients at the Center for Victims of Torture and the depictions in some of the photographs.
Friday: Val Smith from the Youth AIDS Project came and shared information about their work and the population they help. She also brought one of individuals from the program to share her story. It was an amazing story of strength and perserverance.
This week was a huge success for us. We believe that the campus community now knows Physicians for Human Rights and recognizes our presence on campus. Human Rights Awareness week will hopefully continue as an annual event, with new speakers, new topics, and more education and advocacy each year.