Usually, when a human rights violation occurs or something bad happens, it happens to a large group of people due to either a natural disaster or an entrenched problem of society. Obviously, this is terrible and should not happen. However, when we look at only these big-picture issues, it is easy to let an individual or family fall through the cracks when they reach a point of crisis not compatible with a certain campaign or charity. In this case, it is important to recognize them, honor them, and advocate on their behalf.
Three benefits arise out of advocating for an individual:
1. You most likely can have a more in-depth relationship, whether it is via email, or you know them personally, when advocating for one person instead of many
2. That person can become a sort of representation of a larger issue. For example, advocating about one child who drowned and their family can raise awareness about water safety.
3. Advocating for an individual seems to be more effective, since it is tangible. People don’t just hear about all of the hungry families in U.S. cities, they meet one in a real way.
So, how do we do this?
One, you need someone to advocate for. I do not recommend going out and looking for them. I believe that in order for one to be moved to do this in an effective and humanizing, God has to move their heart for a specific person. For example, some people have begun advocating for a little boy with cancer at our church. They didn’t do it to take up a cause, they did it out of love for this boy and his family. This has then spread to helping other children diagnosed with cancer through fundraising.
After you have been moved to advocate on someone’s behalf, speak to them if at all possible to ask what they want you to do to help. If not, for example, a victim of wrongful imprisonment, then work to tell their story. It as simple as that. Tell their story and move people to action in any way that you can think of. It helps to have some way that a person can help once they are moved through your advocacy. If you are advocating for a family who lost a child, ask them if they need meals. If you are advocating for a rape victim who has not received justice, ask people to write letters to authorities.
Remember, all advocacy should either raise awareness or move people to action, and ideally it will do both.
Please let me know if you have ever advocated for an individual or family, what you did, and share advice. It would be greatly appreciated!