As I stepped off the rickety stairs leading me off the plane onto the landing ground of Tegucigalpa airport I had one resounding thought “I am a mad woman” chuckling nervously to myself. Over the past two days I had travelled from my small, rural village in Scotland to Honduras, a country with the second highest murder rate in the world, all by myself. I was here to work with Global Brigades, a non-profit organisation providing legal support to rural communities with the ethos of facilitating empowerment through the education and promotion of Human Rights.
Honduras, like other countries in Central America has massive issues with legal misinformation and impunity which systematically undermines its people, blocking them from access to basic legal support. In addition to this, the machismo culture breeds gender inequality, largely responsible for the immense violence against women. With this knowledge I was keen to take part in the Legal Empowerment Brigade as I firmly believe in promoting equality and eradicating injustice.
I was undoubtedly nervous about being a young woman in a dangerous country, especially as I could only speak very basic Spanish. However, I felt supported by other members of the brigade. We felt united in our determination for the legal clinics to be a success and to make some difference in the community.
This trip was essential in building my legal skills and preparing me for my next chapter in academia as I intend to apply for the Graduate Law program once completing my current degree. As I study art, working in a legal environment required me to leave my comfort zone but I was keen for the challenge. Not only did my confidence grow but my interest in law was affirmed, motivating me further to push for my goal.
Through the legal clinics and family visits, we were able to get involved with the community and hear their stories. I found this the most rewarding as we could see the impact Global Brigades has made on the lives of rural Hondurans. It was also interesting to see how the cases of domestic violence or child support mirror issues we face in our own society and although Scotland and Honduras are thousands of miles apart, these issues are universal. It was so valuable to be able to connect with the people of Honduras and be immersed in a different culture.
Thanks to the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund I was able to take part in this trip which has been incredibly advantageous, not only for my academic progression but for my own personal growth. I had the opportunity to meet likeminded people and work on a project that I am deeply passionate about. On returning to university, I will be taking the position of President of the Legal Empowerment chapter and continue the promotion of Human Rights at the University of Edinburgh. If I can travel to Honduras by myself, I have no excuse for being too afraid to do anything.