Edmund Rice Justice Desk moves to Ottery

LILLIAN AMOS

The NPO, which was established in 2013, recently moved offices to Ottery and are trying to branch out their services to the surrounding community.

The organisation advocates for human rights. They operate in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe and offer their expertise globally.

Director Jessica Dewhurst said they are taking a different approach to helping people.

“There’s a common perception among NGOs that they have all the answers. They go in and think they have all the answers and they try and fix it. We, however, take a different approach,” said Ms Dewhurst.

“We think that the experts on the issues of the community are the residents themselves so we go into the community and we help educate, equip and skill community members on the ground with the necessary skills and resources they would need to challenge their own injustices and human rights violations that they face,” she
said.

Part of the programme includes comprehensive training on human rights and children’s rights, as well as domestic violence, drug abuse and conflict.

The organisation also works at schools through their education and awareness campaigns to get young people involved in advocacy.

The Edmund Rice Justice Desk works closely with the United Nations (UN) to research issues relating to human rights abuses and make sure that people’s rights are not violated.

“We’re all about empowering the individual person with whatever they need to be the changemakers that they were born to be,” said Ms Dewhurst.

The organisation is based on word of mouth and usually communities approach them to ask for help.

“We then set up specific training and go into the communities to do the training,” said Ms Dewhurst.

Facilitator Sarah Child said in the next few months they will be working on building relationships with communities.

“We’re establishing ourselves in communities like Lavender Hill and Ottery and would love
to help other communities with their specific needs,” said Ms
Child.

The main goal is to empower community leaders so that they can eventually do the training.

“It’s unrealistic and unsustainable to have NGOs constantly coming into communities and not equipping people to resolve their problems. We want to em-
power them to be their own change because if NGOs keep com-
ing it’s going to build an unsustainable model between the NGO and the community and at the end of the day the change needs to
come from within the community and if they have ownership of their change,” said Ms Dewhurst.

Contact the Edmund Rice Justice Desk office on 060 627 1963 or email info@ernsa.org