Madeline England

Madeline England (Home for Human Rights – HHR): Madeline received her BA in economics from Mount Holyoke College in 2002. She then worked as a legal assistant for a London law firm and as an outreach coordinator for the Women’s Anti-Violence Education program in Philadelphia. From 2004 to 2006, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania, West Africa, where she helped women entrepreneurs to coordinate marketing campaigns and business plans. At the time of her fellowship, Madeline was pursuing a Masters in International Affairs with a concentration in Human Rights at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. After her fellowship, Madeline wrote: "The fellowship was an infinitely valuable experience. I learned more about human rights advocacy and research, exactly as I was hoping, and I also gained experience working in a conflict zone. It helped me to develop the skills and understanding to work with community-based human rights organizations."

Goodbye and thank you

10 Aug

This is a little cliche, but for my last post, I would just like to express my gratitude to 53 of the most incredible people I have ever met.

Well ok, I didn’t meet all of them, but I did meet most.

I am speaking of course of the HHR staff. They have been working for 30 years to protect the human rights of all Sri Lankan people – locally, nationally, and internationally. They work tirelessly and selflessly certainly not for the money or prestige but just because it is the right thing to do. They have heard the stories of suffering and refuse to stand back and let it happen.

When you hear stories about local human rights advocates who risk their lives for their work, they are speaking about HHR. The threats and the people are very real.

They work in the field with the people. They listen to their stories and then do whatever they can to help through local and national courts, international human rights bodies, legal aid, women’s issues, medical rehabilitation programs for torture survivors, human rights education, the list goes on.

And I am most grateful that they allowed me to spend three months learning from their experience. Not only did I learn, they also welcomed me into their lives and trusted me with their stories. They call themselves Home for Human Rights, and to be totally cliché, it really is just that.

I am a better person just for having known them. Learning more about what I will do when I finish school and how to do field work in a conflict zone is just an added bonus.

As I was leaving the office today, the executive director of HHR, Mr. Xavier, said to make sure I tell the world what is happening to the people of Sri Lanka. From Sri Lanka, we whisper. From the States, I can scream. I will do as Mr. Xavier asks because he is my hero, but I don’t know how long I will last before returning to HHR. In my mind is the great debate between the value of a graduate degree and the need to do something now. A big part of me just wants to forget my second year of graduate school to continue working there. At the very least, I know this is not goodbye.

Posted By Madeline England

Posted Aug 10th, 2007


  • Shalise Forti

    August 10, 2007


    It sounds like you’ve had an incredible experience Maddie! I commend you for the work you’ve done and for the graceful handling of it all. I hope to accomplish something like it someday!

  • Lisa Hanson

    September 1, 2007


    I am a Columbia grad and an American who has been working on advocating for human rights in Sri Lanka. I would love to get in touch with you if you would care to give me your contact information. Your work and passion are very inspiring and we are so grateful for your contributions. Thanks, Lisa

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