A 75-year-old flees from his home and now lives in a refugee camp.
Children disappear, some as young as seven years old, and are later dropped off after being mistreated or even tortured into making some confession that vilifies their family.
Refugees cross borders hoping to find sanctuary, but find bullets instead.
And women who survive sexual assault are left without resources to cope with what has happened to them and without medical treatment for AIDS.
Who is helping these people?
Amnesty International (AI) steps in to fill the gap, independently researching cases such as these and fighting for the rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), calling attention to worldwide injustices.
Wendy Moore is a human-rights activist. For the past year, she has been leading an AI writing circle.
“Two [other] women, Wendy Jickling and Chris Meyer, ran the writing circle for 15 years,” she says, wanting to acknowledge the foundation of AI in Whitehorse.
“People use their power as individuals to really make change,” Moore says.
The group’s letters are handwritten because “it indicates that it’s a real individual who’s taken the time to do so.”
People gather to write as many as six letters at a time. Afterwards, they post their own letters.
Moore says individuals are “a small part of a bigger whole. Handwritten letters are very significant. They consider it [each letter] to be worth 10 e-mailed letters.”
AI raises awareness and Moore is all for that, even within her own family. Her three children, age 3, 6 and 8, are becoming aware, in age-appropriate ways, as she tells them “there are some people who are mean to others and we want the world to be a fair place.
“I hope it teaches them something about being responsible global citizens.”
It doesn’t take long to write a letter – to make a difference globally.
“While you’re out Christmas shopping,” Moore says, “you can write a letter or two.
“Or it can be done on an individual basis through the website.
“Anyone can do it.”
And what happens when people write?
“People are released from jail.
“There’s something very satisfying about knowing you can effect real change,” Moore says emphatically.
She adds that writers have sometimes even received acknowledgement from the government they are writing to.
In September, at least seven POCs (prisoners of conscience) were released. One of those was U Win Tin, who had been imprisoned for 19 years.
U Win Tin benefited from a worldwide appeal for letter writing.
Thousands more like him are still waiting.
A Write-a-Thon is being held Dec. 6 from noon to 4 p.m. at The Old Fire Hall. Paper, pens and sample letters will be provided.
The AI writing circle meets every third Tuesday at Whitehorse United Church.
Carolyn Moore would love to hear from anyone interested in writing. You can reach her at 667-7565.
You can also visit Amnesty International at www.amnesty.ca.