Changing the world, one life at a time
The idea that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights is a great principle, but far from reality. We live in a world where oppression and terror reigns, where people are marginalized and deprived of their rights daily. We can only fight for our rights, when we understand those rights and the consequences of being deprived of such rights.
Haki Yetu means “Our Rights” in Swahili, which is the language of the world. It is believed that all children in the world, when they learn to speak, start with Swahili words, for example: “dada” (sister), “baba” (daddy), “mama” (mom) and so on. As children utter these words, we understand that they have a need and are asking for help.
Haki Yetu believes in empowering individuals and communities to know their rights reclaim and protect these rights. As a human being who has suffered greatly for expressing my own rights, I understand and remain strongly committed to the ongoing struggle to promote the rights and equality of all individuals.
The vision of Haki Yetu goes back several years ago, in the country which would become the “rape capital of the world” and participate in the genocide of about 8,000,000 people: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It was in the DRC that I would understand war, torture, human rights abuses and the absence of individual rights. It was also in that country that my social soul would be molded and shaped, thus birthing this organization: Haki Yetu.
Having been born in the DR Congo, I have watched as my father and sister died mysteriously, just days after standing up to the dictatorial government who had instigated the ongoing Civil War, which would claim the lives of millions of Congolese.
In 1998, at the beginning of the Civil War, and after watching the countless deaths and destruction of many innocent lives, I was moved to go preach on National TV (RTNC) . During the live evening news, I went to deliver a message about national unity and reconciliation, as a way to bring peace and build consensus among the various opposing groups, destroying the stability of the country.
Although I was expressing my right to freedom of opinion and expression, which includes freedom to receive and impart information and ideas through any media, I ended up being arrested during the news hour, as thousands of viewers watched horrendously how I was being beaten and tortured during my arrest.
The cruel and inhuman treatment which I received as I desperately clang to my right to life, from one death row to another, watching the execution of my fellow inmates, are simply indescribable, for no human being should be subjected to such degrading punishment.
Although Congolese law prohibits arbitrary arrests and detentions, government security forces routinely arbitrarily arrested and detained persons. I was kept for several months without my family knowing about my whereabouts, in unsafe and unsanitary prison conditions.
I was tortured many times during my stay at various prison cells with unusual conditions of confinement, detained for prolonged times without ever been charged of any crime, denying me of my right to be recognized before the law. I was guilty with no possibility of ever being proven innocent.
With the help of international human rights organizations such as the Red Cross International, I was able to receive medical care for my wounds after several months of detention. I was then allowed a public trial where I was finally acquitted for lack of evidence and false imprisonment.
Upon my release, after having miraculously escaped execution, I vowed to defend the rights of the oppressed and change the horrific and inhumane conditions of those who were still detained in DR Congo prisons and jails, and denied of their rights as human beings.
In New York City, I came across many immigrants with difficulties accessing services as a result of language and cultural barriers. In cases where they received services, they knew very little about their own rights and therefore, could not articulate or advocate for these rights when they were infringed upon.
Along with other activists, Haki Yetu was created to give a voice to the voiceless, provide needed services while giving people the tools to understand and advocate for their own rights. By empowering one individual, we believe we can bring change and transformation, while replicating leaders in disenfranchised and marginalized communities.
Whether it is in combating poverty among low income communities, fighting to preserve healthy families, ensuring that individuals in need receive crucial services, promoting the rights of the disabled or advocating for women’s rights, Haki Yetu remains dedicated to the advancement of human rights. It is our hope that the principle that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights shall be held to the highest standards and that societies will work to ensure these rights are not being infringed upon.
As we continue the work of advocating for equality and justice, I strongly urge you to join our cause of defending the rights of the oppressed and marginalized, for the violation of rights of one individual in our community, violates the rights of all of us. Thus, leaving behind race, creed, religion, social, economic and political ideologies, let us join to promote our “Haki Yetu” (Our Rights). Once we understand our rights, we can build ourselves as individuals, we can build our communities, we can build our countries, and we can build the world.
Dr. S. L. Mlongetcha Jackson
President & CEO.
Our philosophy is strategically centered in the human rights model because it foregrounds dignity and justice for every human being, and makes clear that any form of injustice against any member of our community undermines the human rights of the entire community. The refugees we meet confront the discriminatory attitudes and practices that limit access to affordable housing, quality education and decent healthcare, adequate public benefits, living-wage jobs and enhanced political participation, and there are few opportunities to address these issues.
The organization was created by Bishop Dr. SLM Jackson, who was born in the DR Congo and arrested during a live sermon about peace and reconciliation in the DR Congo. He was severely persecuted, confined, placed on death row, until he was released and came to the US as a refugee. As a newcomer having to navigate the complex social services system in the US, Bishop Dr. SLM Jackson founded Haki Yetu’s President and Founder, Bishop Dr. SLM Jackson created Haki Yetu, in New York, with the same purpose of combating oppression, injustice and promoting human rights as a principle for social justice. Haki Yetu, believes in ensuring the dignity and protection of people at risk, by giving them the freedom to define and control their own lives, while promoting economic empowerment as a basic human right. The organization was primarily created to be a voice to the hopeless, an advocate for the oppressed and a catalyst for change for those unable to do so.
Haki Yetu, which means “Our Rights” in Swahili, is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization
dedicated to promote the rights of individuals living in marginalized and disenfranchised
communities where human rights are violated. We believe in solidarity, equality and justice for all.
We believe that individuals are more likely to benefit from services once they are aware of and can
freely exercise their human rights. Through a range of programs, advocacy and services, Haki Yetu
works to end injustices, discrimination, violence, and other forms of injustices faced by individuals
living in New York and other countries. Haki Yetu is also committed to empowering individuals,
families and communities to act in defense of their own rights and freedoms and to overcome the
barriers created by societal problems.
Haki Yetu which means “Our Rights” in Swahili was created to combat oppression, injustice and promote human rights as a principle for social justice in our communities of interest.
Through a range of programs and services, linkages, education and advocacy, we seek to help individuals live independent and self-sufficient lives with respect and dignity.
We are also committed to empowering individuals, families and communities to act in defense of their own rights and freedoms and to overcome the barriers created by societal problems.
Haki Yetu places its issues squarely within the context of human rights concerns which currently exist within our communities. Haki Yetu works to increase the awareness of human rights within our communities, for we are all entitled to dignity and justice, and we must all stand up for our rights.
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions. Your generous donation will fund our mission.
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