Nesha Abiraj, a young attorney at law, and member of the Swaha Gyaan Deepak Kirtan Mandali, was featured by Amnesty International on January 11th 2018 in a student portrait for the promotion and protection of Human Rights globally.

Against the backdrop of the global refugee crisis, Nesha, determined to find a way to use her voice to advocate for those whose voices had been silenced and who had become part of the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised groups, commenced Amnesty’s course on the Rights of Refugees. Amnesty’s Refugee course is open to all persons worldwide.

After successful completion of the course, Nesha was selected by the Amnesty International Headquarters in the UK, out of the many students globally, who undertook the course at the time, to be interviewed for the purpose of sharing her story to inspire others, to educate themselves about the refugee crisis and to take up the mantle to defend human rights.

The article featuring Nesha’s journey has been published by Amnesty International in both English and Arabic. It is also being translated into French and Spanish and is being shared globally by Amnesty International to inspire as many as possible to become human rights defenders.

Nesha was a successful civil lawyer for 8 years before taking Amnesty’s refugee rights course which prompted her to change her life path.After finishing the course, Nesha decided there was no turning back knowing what she knew now about the horrors being faced by the millions of persons fleeing conflict. In many cases, fleeing for their life with just the clothes on their back, barefooted walking for miles, separated from their families, not knowing where their next meal would come from, or whether they would even have shelter or even clean drinking water. Nesha recounts the impetus which led to her to apply to further her studies, saying:

“We take many things for granted, but there are millions without the most basic of necessities, who face exploitation, especially young girls and women, who are often trafficked…every person and child deserves the right to live up to his or her God given potential and if you have a voice you should use it service to others. At any moment anyone of us can become a refugee…”

In the pursuit, of what she believes to be her dharma, she made the bold move of giving up her career as a civil lawyer in Trinidad, to pursue herMasters in International Human Rights Law, an area of law which she had never delved into before.In recounting what her thinking was, in leaving everything she knew and held dear behind, she recounted:

“We all have choices to make in life, the easy choice would have been to stay in Trinidad and have a stable salary, and be in the comfort of my home, my friends and family, but I chose the path that I believe was the right thing to do, rather than what was easy as hard and scary as it was to make that decision.”

Nesha says she knew that if she wanted to make any real change, education and awareness were key, and she credits both her spiritual and family upbringing for helping her understand this. Nesha is currently a student at Northwestern University in the US.

She grew up in the Gyaan Deepak KirtanMandali, and in a loving family, both of which she says played a critical role in the development of her sense of empathy and her duty to give back and assist those in need, ultimately inspiring her career today and her dedication to defending human rights. She credits the guidance of the Paramacharya Pundit Hardeo Persad, Spiritual Head of SWAHA; her Guru Pundit Balram Persad and the spiritual leader of Gyaan Deepak, Pundit Dr.Umesh Persad, for contributing to her spiritual development which gave her the courage to make such a life-altering decision.

Nesha recounts the advice given to her by the Paramcharaya before leaving Trinidad in August of 2017, which was the importance of developing dispassion through worship to Lord Shiva, a piece of advice which she says she holds closely to her heart.Although she now lives in the US, Nesha says she continues to attend Sunday morning service at Gyaan Deepak virtually through the social media.

She is an active member of a number of NGOs, where she focuses her work on helping young people who have had a difficult upbringing avoid a life of crime, helping others in getting to know and understand their legal rights, and marches for women’s rights and empowerment.

“Were it not for the spiritual guidance I was fortunate to have, this moment would have never been possible and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my spiritual leaders, my family, my friends and the members of Gyaan Deepak, who helped shaped me into who I am today.”

Certainly, Nesha is an inspiration to all youths of Gyaan Deepak, SWAHA and the nation, at large. Her example is one that young Hindu girls can emulate as they walk their walk bravely.

The article which Amnesty International published on Nesha’s on-going journey towards becoming a human rights defender, can be accessed by clicking on the following link: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/education/2018/01/student-portrait-nesha-refugee-crisis/