Sandra Mwarania, 28, Kenya
I used to think human rights advocacy was just for professionals with a strong legal background. It’s not. At university, students aren’t listened to. When I was a student, I advocated for students to have an active, powerful voice on issues that mattered to them. Campaigning for youth rights was fun and inspiring. We go to university to carve successful career paths. However, students are confronted with harsh realities of joblessness, corruption, discrimination and a host of other injustices. I experienced this first hand when I left university. Instead of giving in to hopelessness, I volunteered with social justice initiatives. I am 28 now and a year into my first stable job. Now I have a job, I feel as though I need to hold on to it and I’m grateful my current role complements my volunteering work. In a way, human rights activism saved me. Seeing the impact my work is having makes me feel good and it encourages me to keep going. If people try to bring me down, I smile and ignore them. I know my story and I know where I want to go. I am inspired by… Amnesty International Kenya’s Country Director – Irũngũ Houghton. Since he joined the team this year, my work ethic has shifted. He constantly coaches me to challenge myself as a human rights defender and young leader.