Column: Nigerian Human Rights Officer Speaks to Melrosians
The Melrose Human Rights Commission sponsored the talk by Chekwube Nwabueze, a senior investigating officer for the National Nigerian Human Rights Commission.
On Sunday afternoon, May 22, in an event sponsored by the Melrose Human Rights Commission and made possible by the generous contribution of space by the congregation of Temple Beth Shalom, Chekwube Nwabueze addressed a group of Melrose citizens, describing her human rights work in Nigeria. Ms. Nwabueze is currently doing graduate work at Simmons College, where she is the president of the Amnesty Club. At home in Nigeria, she is a senior investigating officer for the National Nigerian Human Rights Commission and the founding director of HOPE, a community support agency that works to provide help tor victims of domestic violence, floods, and soil erosion.
Ms. Nwabueze explained how, following in her mother’s footsteps, she decided as a young girl to dedicate herself to helping those who were in need of protection, nourishment, shelter, education, or health care. This led, in 2001, to her founding a program that she named HOPE (which is the meaning of her first name, Chekwube, in the Ibo language). Her work on behalf of destitute women, children, HIV victims, and people who had lost their homes and possessions in environmental catastrophes, came to the attention of the National Nigerian Human Rights Commission, who invited her to join them.
Members of the audience commented after her talk on the powerful impact that Chekwube Nwabueze’s stories had on them. While it was heart rending to hear about the plight of homeless and abused women and children and people whose poverty makes them exceptionally vulnerable to environmental catastrophe and domestic violence, it was inspiring to learn about the work that she and others in her country have been doing, for nearly twenty years, to address those needs and further the causes of human rights and dignity. Their unremitting efforts on behalf of those in need—sometimes with and sometimes against official forces—takes brave resolution, a refusal to be disheartened by repeated difficulty, and a willingness to define success as one or two lives saved or improved through protracted, frustrating efforts. It was a powerful and inspiring portrait of courage, commitment, compassion, and human possibility.
Suzy Groden is the chairwoman of the Melrose Human Rights Commission.