I met a young woman in Mozambique last month. She asked me not to share her real name - I’ll call her Odete.
Her mother died of tuberculosis, and shortly after she started coughing herself.
Mozambican health policy says TB drugs are free, and the national health budget has money to pay for them. But policy doesn’t always translate to real life. Odete went to the local health clinic and waited all day to be seen. Her skin was yellow-orange. She couldn't move her feet.
But she was refused treatment that day - and the day after.
Odete says she wouldn't be alive today if two grassroots legal advocates hadn't helped herunderstand her rights and get the drugs she needed from the clinic staff. “I didn’t even recognize myself,” she says. “I was nearly dead.”
Namati needs your help to support legal advocates working with communities and clients like Odete around the world. Will you make a contribution to our work?
We're All People
Since recovering, Odete has joined the village health committee. One of the cases she's working on now is challenging the denial of services to migrant laborers from Gaza and Inhambane, provinces to the north.
I mentioned that one of the (then) US presidential candidates was telling migrants to go home, and I asked why she was intervening for the rights of people from elsewhere. "We're all the same," she said. "We're all people."
Her journey is a counterpoint to the xenophobic authoritarianism that's on the rise in so many places. The state neglected and mistreated Odete - but instead of turning away, instead of becoming alienated or cynical, she stepped forward. She used the state's own rules to protect herself, and now she's shaping those rules so they better protect others.
In 2016, barefoot lawyers working with Namati and its partners helped over 25,000 people across 11 countries to take similar journeys: from despair to hope, from powerlessness to public spiritedness.
By learning from the grassroots experience of legal advocates, we fight for systemic improvements to laws and policies. In 2016, we secured smarter sand mining regulations in India and a new policy for combating bribery in the Mozambican health system. Changes like these better protect the legal rights of millions of people.
We’ve spent the past five years discovering and demonstrating legal empowerment methods, and establishing the world's first network dedicated to legal empowerment - made up of 900+ groups from 150 countries. We were proud to accept the prestigious 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship on behalf of this global community.
Now More Than Ever
We are poised to apply legal empowerment methods at scale. This work is needed now more than ever. Will you help make it possible?