Fall stories of hope & resilience that light up the world

If 2021 has taught us anything, it may be that glimmers of light will always shine through the darkness. And when we help that light grow, it illuminates the world in ways we never expected.

With Chanukah around the corner, we see these lights shining. They are the activists and advocates we support in 18 countries around the world, who spread hope, spark change and devote their lives to making this world a better place. They work for a new tomorrow amid daunting challenges like fighting authoritarian governments, combating hatred of LGBTQI+ people and defending Indigenous lands against harmful development.

We are proud to share with you the latest edition of Stories of Hope & Resilience, a collection of stories about activists around the world whose light is only getting stronger, despite the prevailing darkness. You’ll read about a brave group of Haitian journalists devoted to exposing corruption and educating people, even as their country endures crisis after crisis. You’ll learn about a landmark case supporting LGBTQI+ rights in India that rose from a lesbian couple refusing to accept abuse from local police.

And we’re thrilled to include our brand-new 2021 Annual Report: Until We Are All Free, which explores how the activists AJWS supports have changed the world in the past year.

We hope you’re inspired by these stories from Haiti, Indonesia and beyond. Without a doubt, the light of every activist and organization we support shines brighter because of your generosity, compassion and belief that a better world lies ahead.

— Your Friends at AJWS

Around the World


Courtesy OBMICA

Global Vaccine Equity: To Save a Life Is to Save the World

The next major human rights crisis is here: The massive disparity in the rollout of vaccines has left people deeply vulnerable in every region where AJWS works. Right now, fewer than 5% of people in low-income countries have been vaccinated, compared to more than 60% in high-income countries. This piece by AJWS President and CEO Robert Bank explains why we must fight for vaccine equity now, and how AJWS grantees are working on the frontlines of this battle.

Inside AyiboPost: The Necessity — and Danger — of Independent Journalism in Haiti

AyiboPost SOH
Photo by Valérie Baeriswyl

During 2021 alone, the people of Haiti have endured a deadly earthquake, the disintegration of democracy, the assassination of their former president, and rampant gang violence that is ruling the streets. Amid these complex crises and unchecked corruption, it’s hard for Haitians to know the truth about what’s happening in their country. That’s where AyiboPost comes in: This consortium of independent Haitian journalists is publishing investigative, accurate news — even risking their own lives — to make sure citizens not only have the facts, but can mobilize and fight for change.

Photo by Sara Hylton

From Victimization to Victory: An Indian Judge Rules Against LGBTQI+ Persecution

When a lesbian couple came out to their families earlier this year, their parents not only disapproved — they called the police, who hunted down their daughters, and apprehended and harassed them. But with the support of an AJWS grantee, the couple took the police to court — and against all odds, they won. The presiding judge made a sweeping ruling that could one day prevent anti-LGBTQI+ discrimination across Indian society. By fighting for their right to be together, this couple set changes in motion that could make India safer for their entire community.


Until We Are All Free: AJWS’s Annual Report

Photo courtesy of Asociación Comité Microcuenca Río Aguacate/UNES

We’re thrilled to present Until We Are All Free, our 2021 Annual Report. This beautiful publication presents the most inspiring stories of advocates and activists around the world — all fighting for human rights, dignity and freedom for their communities. From the Dominican Republic to Liberia to India and beyond, these stories show the real-time impact of your generous support of AJWS: movements mobilized, lives changed and land preserved.

What We're Reading and Listening To

“In Indian Mining Hub, Farmers Bring Polluted Land Back to Life”

In recent years in India, mining for iron ore has generated pollution that has damaged thousands of acres of land. This Reuters piece profiles courageous AJWS grantee Sakhi Trust, which has worked tirelessly to help local farmers and communities bring polluted and barren land back from the brink of devastation to blossom once again.

Thomson Reuters Foundation

“Relentless Disaster: Survivors of Indonesia’s 2018 Earthquake and Tsunami are Still Struggling”

In 2018, a massive tsunami and earthquake devastated the coastal city of Palu, Indonesia, killing thousands. Three years later, whole communities still feel abandoned by their government — but AJWS grantee partners are fighting for their rights. This piece, written by activist Abdul Haris, explores how NGOs have stepped in to aid the most vulnerable families in Palu — and what still must be done.

Southeast Asia Globe

“The U.S. Should Change Course and Support True Democracy in Haiti”

Today, thousands of Haitians are fleeing their homes amid escalating crises, after a decade of American foreign policy in Haiti that has contributed to the destruction of the country’s democratic institutions. In this Newsweek piece, longtime AJWS grantee Pierre Esperance, Executive Director of Haiti’s National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH), describes his anguish at witnessing the deportation of Haitians seeking asylum in the United States and makes a compelling case for change.


“As COP15 Approaches, "30 by 30" Becomes a Conservation Battleground”

AJWS’s Director of Land, Water and Climate Justice, Nikhil Aziz, is interviewed in this article about the UN’s new plan to maintain global biodiversity. Called “30 by 30,” the plan lays out conservation measures that could preserve 30% of Earth’s land and sea. But land rights activists say these measures could prompt mass evictions of Indigenous communities — and urge global leaders to find another way. Nikhil shares why we must respect Indigenous people’s right to their ancestral lands and learn from them how to protect our planet.


“Filmmaker: Ex-U.S. Envoy’s Words Tell the Story of Our Lives in Haiti”

In this personal essay, renowned Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck — director of I Am Not Your Negro — collaborated with AJWS to examine the history of failed U.S. interventionism in Haiti. Raoul’s beliefs and hopes for Haiti are directly in line with ours: that stability in the country will depend on leadership from Haiti’s brave civil society leaders.

Just Security

Take Action with AJWS

Haiti is in crisis, reeling from a deadly earthquake earlier this year, the assassination of former President Jovenel Moïse and ongoing gang violence that rages on unchecked. AJWS’s partners in Haiti and our advocacy staff in Washington, D.C., are doing everything in their power to build a democratic Haiti that is safe for everyone.

You can help make a difference. Raise your voice right now in support of their work and urge the Biden administration to put Haitian-led solutions at the center of U.S. foreign policy toward Haiti.

Take Action Today