September surprised us. 145 donors raised $25,943. Several local artist and musicians are on board to make the Rock Your HeArt Out concert and art auction a night to remember. Comprehensive research proved that immigration is good for the economy. Our team cheered as an HRI VAWA client became a naturalized citizen. And Peter Thompson has been so diligent in the fight for safety and liberty for our clients. So yes, we're still in shock.
Hometown: Dallas, Texas Education: UT at Austin & SMU Dedman School of Law Company: Strasburger & Price LLP
Driving Force: I think asylum seekers are the bravest people I’ve ever met. They suffer terrible consequences for their beliefs – beliefs in basic freedoms that I take for granted in my everyday life. I am in awe of their terrific sacrifices. They’ve fought for so long, and they deserve to have somebody fight for them. It is an extraordinary privilege to represent them.
'A Ha' Moment: There are many. The first time a client told her story, I felt a chill – it was a glimpse into a life where fear of the government was present and pervasive from an early age. I’m sure I’ve felt positive and negative feelings about our government during my life, but raw fear is not something I’ve ever experienced.
HRI Takeaway: It is a remarkable experience that impacts my world view and provides me with a deeper understanding of humanity. Asylum seekers are often under such tremendous stress that it brings into sharp focus what’s most important in life. I have unending gratitude for the opportunity, and a desire to do so much more.
Fun Fact: When I’m not practicing law I enjoy spending time with my family, acting, and playing the guitar.
"I’ve learned that taking a stand for one’s beliefs is not a clear-cut proposition; the adversity that asylum seekers face is complex. They may face great persecution from their tormentors as well as resentment from family members – all at the same time. It can be a very lonely place to be. But my client made an extraordinary contribution to her country, and her efforts will not be forgotten. Now it is my responsibility to help her find a brighter future."
145 donors raised $25,943 for Human Rights Initiative! This is our biggest North Texas Giving Day yet, not only in terms of dollars raised but also number of donors. In 2015, HRI raised just over $20,500 with 114 donors. Thank you for making North Texas Giving Day one to remember. -Kavita Khandekar, Deputy Director
Our HRI Team had the privilege of attending Hawa's Naturalization Ceremony. Watch the full video here.