Bareng Dona is a final–year law student and co-chairperson of the new executive committee of Amnesty International Wits, a human rights advocacy group that serves to promote equality at the university. Wits Vuvuzela spoke to her about the organisation’s plans in 2021.
What was your inspiration to become part of the Amnesty International executive committee?
I am simply a humanitarian at heart. With the problematic world we live in, it is [becoming] more pertinent for me to rise above the narrow confines of simply being an individual, to truly getting involved in some way or form to ensure the wellbeing of others too.
The covid-19 pandemic put a stop to regular advocacy work on campus with a shift to online campaigns. Will that continue this year?
Yes. Our campaigns this year will primarily be on social media especially because lockdown regulations are so uncertain. However, as soon as we are clear of covid regulations, surely, we will get into campaigning face-to-face again.
What are some of the biggest challenges that the organisation faces because of the pandemic?
I think the biggest challenge we have faced so far is reaching a large number of people with our campaigns and this is only because all we have is our followers on social media. So, with face-to-face campaigns, even people who don’t know what’s going on, or what we’re advocating for, would eventually be aware, and that’s the objective at the end of the day.
Would you say that the advocacy work is compromised?
To an extent, yes, I would think advocacy is somewhat compromised because of the number of people it reaches on the socials as compared to in real life. But on the other hand, I would think it has become easier for people to do, because one can just retweet or repost a social matter without having to avail themselves to attend a real–life campaign. In that sense, I would not entirely say it has compromised advocacy work.
How will you get students excited about taking part in advocacy work without the face-to-face element?
For now, it will really just depend on us being super creative with our online campaigns. For light–hearted events like Women’s Day, for instance, we might challenge people to do something amazing for the women in their lives and try to have that trend as a positive vibe on the socials. We will see, but do look out for what we get up to on our social media pages.
FEATURED IMAGE: Co-chairperson of Amnesty International, Bareng Dona. Photo: Provided
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