Hope and resilience through action

At AJWS, we have been asking our supporters, grantees and staff why they are still hopeful amid a devastating global pandemic, and as threats to justice and democracy proliferate around the world. The resounding answer has been that we remain hopeful because, despite the challenges, the AJWS community continues to fight for the rights and dignity of the world’s most vulnerable people—and we’re making progress. Like the grantees around the world, our supporters have underscored that hope and resilience are rooted in action.

Whether it’s a young elected official in India distributing food and accurate health information to support her community through the pandemic, or activists who are working to persuade the government of Bangladesh to restore internet access to the world’s largest refugee camp, AJWS grantees are not despairing over the challenges they face, but are living their values and working toward change. And instead of despairing, you, our supporters, have been keeping faith with our mission.

In that shared spirt of all that’s possible, we hope that the stories below buoy your hopes and offer you fortitude to navigate these challenging times.

Around the World

AJWS grantees and others fight to restore internet access to Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

The Rohingya people of Burma celebrated a small but important victory in August, three years since the escalation of the genocide that sent hundreds of thousands into overcrowded camps in Bangladesh. Last year, the government of Bangladesh cut off internet and mobile phone service to the Rohingya camps—blocking them from communicating with the outside world and accessing accurate information about COVID-19 prevention. Rohingya activists, including AJWS grantees and coalition partners, persuaded Bangladesh to bring Rohingya communities back online. While Bangladesh recently reversed their decision, we will continue to press for internet access, a basic human right and a necessity to fight COVID-19.


AJWS grantee responds to COVID-19 and a deadly tropical storm in El Salvador

When tropical storm Amanda hit El Salvador in May, it ravaged the country, destroying homes, roads, and lives throughout the nation. To make matters worse, Salvadorans were still reeling from the COVID-19 virus and associated lockdowns. In the wake of the storm, many had to choose whether to stay home and risk starvation or go to a shelter and risk contracting COVID-19. Read this blog to learn how AJWS grantee-partner UNES made sure families did not have to make this impossible choice.

How a young woman in India is keeping her community safe from COVID-19

When India’s strict COVID-19 lockdown went into effect, people were left scrambling to protect themselves and their families from the disease with little information. Families living in poverty had to decide: buy masks and soap, or food? Shobhnaben, a 30-year-old woman newly elected as a leader in her village in India, rose to the challenge. With the help of a local AJWS grantee-partner, Shobhnaben made sure the entire village was sanitized, educated her community about health and hygiene practices and coordinated food distribution for those in need.

What We're Reading

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Jewish pursuit of justice

The late iconic Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously lived her Jewish values, guided by the phrase from the Book of Deuteronomy: “Justice, justice you shall pursue,” which she displayed in her office. As we mourn the loss of this trailblazing crusader for justice, this piece looks back on her life and celebrates the myriad ways that she worked to build a better world, including co-authoring an AJWS reading for Passover about the unsung female heroes of the Exodus story.

The Washington Post

AJWS expert calls on philanthropists to act now on COVID-19 and gender inequality

The Indian government’s lockdown is destroying hard-won recent progress towards gender equality: The quarantine measure has pushed women and girls back into their homes and apartments, where they face greater risk of domestic violence. Read this compelling article by a friend of AJWS that unpacks how the lockdown is harming women and girls.

Chronicle of Philanthropy

AJWS grantees search for the disappeared in Mexico

An estimated 70,000 people have been “disappeared”—abducted and likely murdered—as Mexico’s “drug wars” continue. Their families face not only excruciating loss, but also the uncertainty of the fate of their loved ones until a body is found. AJWS grantee-partner Las Rastreadoras de El Fuerte—a group of mothers searching for the disappeared—have dedicated themselves to this heartbreaking pursuit, now with the added challenge of COVID-19 afflicting some of their members and putting their searches on pause.

The New Yorker

A Rohingya leader fights for free and fair elections in Burma

Nicaragua is ill-equipped for COVID-19: the economy is in free fall, the health system is fragile, and the Ortega regime is down-playing the pandemic. AJWS’s Tracey Gurd makes the case that Ortega will use the moment to shore up power, and she offers recommendations of what governments can do to stymie the dictator and stand with Nicaraguans.

The Washington Post

Take Action


Support free and fair elections in Burma

Rohingya activists around the world are asking Americans to stand with them to fight for justice and free, fair elections in Burma this November. Legitimate elections are critical for advancing the rights of the Rohingya people and other persecuted ethnic minorities in Burma. The U.S. Senate and House have introduced resolutions that send a powerful message in the fight for justice, and we need you to speak out. Send pre-written notes to your members of Congress today.

Take Action