By Malvika Sawant and Rishi Bappanad
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR, www.phr.org), is an organization that works at the intersection of medicine, science, and law to secure human rights and justice for all. The authors of this article (Malvika Sawant and Rishi Bappanad), initiated the Johns Creek High School Chapter of PHE in Johns Creek, Georgia in March 2020. PHR engages in investigating and documenting human rights violations, giving voice to survivors and witnesses, and planting seeds of reconciliation by ensuring that perpetrators can be held accountable for their crimes. The main principles embedded in PHR are that medical ethics are deeply bound to the protection of human rights. PHR uses its core disciplines – science, medicine, forensics, and public health – to inform the research and investigations and to strengthen the skills of frontline human rights defenders. The PHR chapters and teams work closely with hundreds of partners around the world, using facts to wage effective advocacy and campaigning and providing critical scientific evidence so that survivors can seek justice.
The members of the PHR team in Johns Creek HIgh School are Malvika Sawant (President), Rishi Bappanad (Vice President), Ananya Shetty (Treasurer), Anvita Yerramsetty (Secretary), Shazeb Patel (Public Relations), Arya Shah (Event Manager), and Veeraj Patel (Community Service Director).
The PHR program’s mission is to create a community of future leaders committed to ending human rights violations through careers guided by a human rights framework. The program provides medical students and young professionals with the resources to engage with the larger PHR network to help cultivate skills as advocates for health and human rights locally, nationally, and globally. Every year, the PHR Student Program hosts a national conference hosted at a medical school in the United States and provides student chapters with an organizational platform for continual grassroots student activism.
PHR is a global organization spread throughout multiple prestigious institutes. PHR works to address many advocacy areas by documenting, advocating, and empowering to protect human rights and end impunity for perpetrators. The main advocacy of the Johns Creek Chapter of PHR is to combat human trafficking. PHR works to end impunity for sexual violence and bring justice to survivors of these terrible crimes.
The first high school establishment of PHR, Johns Creek High School, is located in the suburban area of Atlanta which is highly known for its ongoing activities of human trafficking. It comes under the top 5 cities in America for its deceiving acts of trafficking. In a five year span, the Atlanta trafficking industry went from $232 million to $290 million — more than the revenue generated by metro Atlanta’s illegal drug and gun trade combined.
The Johns Creek High School chapter of PHR recognizes the issue of human trafficking. This chapter helps engage students and professionals dedicated to the promotion and advancement of human rights. The program provides students with the resources, training, and networks to develop the skills to advocate for human rights. Through the program, students can organize local direct actions on human rights issues. This includes organizing educational events, screening important documentaries, sponsoring panel discussions, and participating in advocacy days at the local and national levels. Ms. Veena Mehta, the southern regional chapter mentor, helps guide the chapter and coordinates them with the national program. The Johns Creek High School chapter of PHR has even established connections within the Georgia Congress with members such as Georgia Senator John Albers and Representative Angelika Kausche. Students involved in the chapter are invited to attend and participate in the annual National PHR Student Conference, generally held in late fall, at a prestigious university.
Till date, the chapter at Johns Creek High School has conducted many projects to help those in need currently during the ongoing pandemic. For example, they have conducted a food drive, created hand sanitizers, made over 140 masks, donated feminine sanitary products and constructed 145 COVID-19 kits to assist survivors of human trafficking to stay safe and healthy. The kits donated consisted of masks, face-shields, hand-sanitizers, soap paper sheets, and other essentials.
The activities of the PHR Johns Creek are aimed at combatting COVID-19 in anti-human trafficking facilities such as House of Cherith, Wellspring Living, and YouthSpark. As healthy future approaches, PHR Johns Creek will be able to conduct more in-person events. Some of their current plans are to conduct a book drive, clothes drive for the upcoming winter, give Christmas donations, and online tutoring sessions to assist survivors of human trafficking with their education. If one would like to join PHR, they can email email@example.com and check out their Instagram @phrjohnscreek. PHR Johns Creek is always looking for more volunteers!
PHR Johns Creek aims to expand upon a large platform to reach out to multiple shelters they can support and conduct many more projects over the years. PHR is an organization that is quite crucial as it helps unfortunate victims and brings out an unaware topic. PHR believes that everyone has a skill to contribute that can help an individual struggling in this lonely battle of human trafficking, and together stop human trafficking and modern-day slavery. PHR Johns Creek will continue to battle trafficking within the coming years and help create a positive difference within society. We invite our readers of the Indian Periodical to take an initiative and start initiating PHR chapters in various parts of India for this noble cause.
About the Authors:
Malvika Sawant is a sophomore at Johns Creek High School located in Atlanta, Georgia. She enjoys spending her time in community service, and is a member of the Global Thrombosis Forum aspiring to enter the medical field.
Rishi Bappanad is a sophomore at Johns Creek High School in Atlanta, Georgia. Rishi enjoys doing community work and is a member of the Global Thrombosis Forum. Rishi aspires to enter the financial field.