Global Brigades is an international non-profit that empowers communities to meet their health and economic goals through university volunteers and local teams.

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Who gets involved in Human Rights Brigades?

Any undergraduate, graduate students or other volunteers interested in legal and human rights in developing countries would have a great experience with this program. A background in law, policy, and international development is helpful, but not required.

How much law experience do students need?

Students are not required to have any pre-law or law background. The in-country Program Lead and Program Associate provide the brigaders with all the legal information needed to implement the workshops. Brigaders will also have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas with the Program Associate during a pre-brigade webinar. On the brigade, the group will also be accompanied by Panamanian lawyer to answer questions and provide legal guidance.

What does the staff do to prepare for a Human Rights Brigade?

In order to prepare the community, the Program Lead will meet with the community to organize dates of the free legal clinics and identify family cases. Human Rights Program Technicians will conduct site visits to the community to gather specific community and project profile information that will later be shared with the brigaders.
To prepare the students, the Program Associates will host a pre-departute webinar with the brigaders to ensure that the brigaders understand the community needs and the focus of the project before arriving to Panama. Following the pre-departure webinar and prior to arrival, your Program Associate will share all necessary resources in order to adequately prepare you for the brigade.

What does a student do on a Human Rights Brigade?

A Human Rights Brigade participant will typically engage in the following:

• Legal clinics: brigaders will shadow Panamanian lawyers to offer legal advice to whole communities, where families and individuals with unresolved disputes or questions can receive free legal counsel. These clinics are meant to provide no-cost access to legal services that were previously denied or unavailable.
• Family law cases: volunteers, alongside Panamanian lawyers, perform interviews and intake procedures that will be used by the Human Rights lawyers in the following months to resolve the cases that would have been unattended completely or otherwise unresolved for many more years.
• Present educational workshops that inspire and inform the community on a variety of issues such as gender-based stereotypes, domestic violence, education, reproductive rights, and women’s empowerment and leadership, which impact and affect the daily lives of all members of society. The Human Rights Program has been able to develop an educational curriculum to be implemented across each and every Human Rights Brigade.
• Enjoy learning about a new culture, country and environment!
• Have fun! Work, play and learn about the community through a variety of intercultural activities planned by your Brigade Coordinator.

What does the community do on a Human Rights Brigade?

Community involvement is key to a successful Human Rights brigade. The community will participate in each component of the Human Rights Brigade: legal clinics, family cases, and educational workshops overseen and presented by brigaders. Additionally, the community will learn about the legal process in which they are involved and the benefits of the new legal framework. The community will gather together for a final event where both the brigade and the community members will meet one last time before departing, sharing lessons learned, successes and plans for on-going development.

What does a student do to prepare for a Human Rights Brigade?

Volunteers will be provided to several online planning tools and will be invited to a pre-departure webinar to go over itinerary, activities, preparations, and brigade logistics. Be sure to read all educational materials and resources sent by your Program Associate prior to your brigade.

Is there a minimum or maximum number of volunteers for groups?

For University Chapters, there is a minimum 15 volunteers. To fairly serve the community’s needs, this number is non-negotiable. There is no maximum volunteer number. Non-University Chapters- please contact admin@globalbrigades.org.

Where do the funds I raise go?

Volunteers work together with their chapter to fundraise for their individual contributions. Each individual program contribution includes everything needed for the human rights brigade: supplies, local lawyers, translators, support staff, ground transportation, food, lodging and emergency medical insurance. Airfare not included.

Is this safe?

The safety of the student volunteers is Global Brigades’ number one priority and is the single most important consideration when entering a community or choosing a project. Each country that Global Brigades serves in has implemented safety protocols and policies to decrease any risk of danger and to ensure that any emergency can be properly handled in a prompt and professional manner. For more information on safety precautions, emergency procedures and insurance information, please visit Safety and Insurance on the Volunteer Resource Site.

This sounds great. How do I get involved?

First, find out if your school has a Human Rights Brigades Chapter by searching for your school on the Chapters tab. If your school does not have a Chapter, click the Be A Chapter President button to fill out an application to start a chapter. You will be connected with a Chapter Advisor.