Institute of African Studies - Columbia University

Human Rights Advocates Program: Q&A with HRAP Africa Advocates

Event Details

Human Rights Advocates Program: Q&A with HRAP Africa Advocates
November 30, 2015 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Knox Hall Room 208, 606 W 122nd St

The Institute of African Studies is excited to co-sponsor this upcoming event with the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and the Human Rights Advocates Program. Join the program's three Africa advocates for a short presentation on their work, followed by a Question & Answer session with the participants. Lunch will be provided.


Presenter Bios:

Louisa Essendi, Kenya

As a Program Officer for Capacity Building at the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), Louisa Essendi is responsible for overseeing capacity strengthening activities for GALCK’s 16 member organizations. She was additionally recently appointed as Assistant Director of Minority Women in Action. At the age of 15, Louisa began to come to terms with her sexuality as a young lesbian. During her years in high school and the two years she spent in college, Louisa was discriminated against repeatedly due to her sexual orientation. The multiple difficulties she faced during this time, both internal and external, drove her toward a life of working to make Kenya a better place for those facing similar circumstances. She has attended numerous trainings for LGBT activists, including sessions in Sweden and South Africa conducted by the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights. Prior to joining GALCK, Louisa worked with several organizations focused on human rights for women, children and the disabled, including Missionaries of Charity, and the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

Benson Khemis Soro Lako, Republic of South Sudan

Benson Khemis Soro Lako has been the Civic Engagement Officer for Community Empowerment for Rehabilitation and Development (CEFoRD) in South Sudan since 2010. CEFoRD grew out of a youth drama group that started in 2007, and works to educate community leaders and other stakeholders on human rights through trainings, community dialogues, talk radio, written reports, and participatory drama and music. Benson’s duties at CEFoRD focus on project planning, community mobilization, facilitating community trainings and dialogues as well as writing monthly and quarterly reports for the organization. Benson worked as a HIV Field Data Officer from 2011 to 2012. He has attended several training workshops organized by War Child Holland as well as the 2013 East Africa Human Rights Program. In 2011, he earned the Diploma of Public Administration and Management from Africa Population Institute.

Sylvain Waruzi, Democratic Republic of Congo

Sylvain Waruzi is an advocate for the empowerment of women and children affected by armed conflict, the rule of law, and accountability in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 2010, he has been Director of Programs at IMPACT, a nongovernmental organization that seeks to develop and implement programs that create positive change by initiating effective grassroots actions in the areas of women’s rights and natural resources. IMPACT also works to ensure accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations through justice mechanisms and peaceful public pressure. At IMPACT, Sylvain develops and implements the organizational work plan and advocacy strategies. Additionally, he defines key strategic programmatic directions, manages a program team of five full-time staff, and manages the budget. Sylvain has also acted as assistant advocate for the project of advocacy accompaniment of survivors of sexual violence in Uvira and Fizi. Prior to joining IMPACT, Sylvain worked with Arche d’Alliance, a group created in 1997 to monitor and investigate human rights violations in the territories of Fizi, Ubwari and Uvira. Sylvain received his bachelor’s degree in Commercial Sciences and Administration from the Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Bukavu in 2012, and has attended seminars and trainings all over Africa.