Updated: Dec 23, 2020
This is the personal story of Caterina, a motivated human rights student with several years of activism with Amnesty International under her belt.
I come from a small village in the South of Italy. I am a second-year master’s student in Human Rights and Multi-level Governance at the University of Padova. This is the story of how I was exposed to human rights through Amnesty International. I joined Amnesty International at the age of 17 because I was tired of just studying and being at home, and I felt I could spend my spare time doing something good. That’s how it all started. With the help of other activists, I founded and coordinated a Youth Group in my high school. We were a bunch of teenagers, dreaming of changing the world. And we truly believed so. I still remember the time we organized our first flash mob against death penalty. We involved tens of students and I remember the look of surprise in the eyes of the others who did not know what was happening. Afterwards, I realized that Amnesty International was not only an organization, but it became a family, or as we called it, the “yellow family”. Amnesty International became the place where I could express my opinions freely, without being judged. It became a channel through which we could promote campaigns without feeling alone in the fight for human rights. It became a place where I saw myself growing as a conscious individual and a strong woman.
In 2017 I was part of the team of volunteers helping with the organization of the 33rd International Council Meeting in Rome, the former highest decision-making body of the NGO. There I met hundreds of human rights defenders coming from all Amnesty sections around the world. It was an incredible experience, where I learnt how to deal with stress by speaking in front of 400 people.
Getting involved with the organization is possible in various ways. For example, the Italian section organizes annual summer labs around the country, training weeks on human rights - some of which strongly focused on migration - allowing participants to learn about activism, rights violations, and how they can contribute to achieving societal change. This year I had the chance to be a logistics coordinator for all five camps. Despite Covid-19, we managed to involve over 100 participants and 50 speakers, including rights-holders and human rights experts. In a world where hatred, xenophobia, racism, and homophobia are increasing, it is heartening to see how many youth and adults want to learn about activism in this area.
Amnesty is (almost) everywhere. This is why when I travel for work or study, I am always curious to get to know the community of Amnesty activists in the different places. It is so inspiring to actually see how many people are as engaged as you are. It reminds you that you are not alone. Honestly, it is not easy being a human rights defender. Every day we read stories about people deprived of their freedoms just because they expressed their opinions, because of the way they love, because of the colour of their skin. However, we need to approach the situation in solidarity. It is simply not enough to be angry about it. We need to act. Be it with Amnesty, any other organization, or with a group of friends. Simply come together and do it!
Written by Caterina Dollorenzo
Edited by Giulia Rosina
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Caterina Dollorenzo is a graduate student, passionate about refugee human rights protection and determined to tackle injustices all around the world. Follow her story on Instagram @catedollo and Facebook @Caterina Dollorenzo.
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