Human rights organization at BYUH takes on local and international issues with service and fundraising

Written by: 
Jordan Cortez

To help the United Nations with their poverty, climate change, women’s rights and children’s education efforts, the BYU-Hawaii Maka’ala Human Rights Organization set up a booth outside the Aloha Center on Tuesday, Oct. 24 to collect goods and donations. Accepted donations included clothing, water bottles, non-perishable goods and toiletries.

Oct. 24 is United Nations Day because it marks the anniversary the UN was formed, according to Christina Akanoa, an adjunct professor of political science and the faculty advisor for the Maka’ala Human Rights Organization.

Jimmy Tupua, a junior studying political science from Fiji and current president of the organization, said having this organization on campus is important because “it is a doorway to helping others through service and educating people on certain issues that need our attention.

“We live in a campus that is very much a college bubble, but organizations such as this one will help students step out of their comfort zone to learn and grow. The organization has brought together many students from different nationalities and all walks of life. Here they can all share their ideas, experiences and creativity, to help spread awareness on certain issues that are common in all nations.”

Akanoa noted that the organization does not only focus on international issues, but also issues specific to Hawaii and the students at BYUH. The organization has completed projects such as painting the Give N’ Take containers, raising awareness of wasting food in the Club Dining Services, running charity drives and hosting beach clean ups.

Lani Fisher, a sophomore studying peacebuilding from the Big Island, said she joined the organization this semester because she has a deep love for kids. “I think human rights are the right to live. By ‘to live,’ I mean live freely without having to feel repressed or constrained by something. Those feelings are what cause war and other conflicts.

“A lot of the time, that is what is affecting children from getting an education. I think education is the key to the world…I think education is what will change the world and kids are our future. Educating them is vital. Through human rights we can make the world a better place.”

Akanoa said she and two students began the organization in Fall 2012. Its purpose is to promote human right issues by providing awareness, service projects, and collaborating with external associations promoting the same standards.

Akanoa commented on the organization’s name: “Maka’ala is to know, to be aware, to be vigilant, to activate yourself and do something about it. We are going to be Maka’ala.”

Upcoming fundraising events for the Maka’ala Human Rights Organization will be held on Nov. 12 and 22. These events will work towards preventing the exploitation of the environment in war and armed conflict, as well as the elimination of violence against women. On Dec. 9, they will also hold a large service project for the community.

More information about the Maka’ala Human Rights Organization can be found on Facebook, or directly through Christina Akanoa in the social sciences building.

Date Published: 
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Last Edited: 
Saturday, October 28, 2017