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Human Rights Day

Pheroza Godrej converses with B.L. Mungekar, Vice Chancellor, University of Mumbai, at a celebration of Human Rights Day on 10 December, 2003.

uman Rights Day was celebrated the world over on 10 December, 2003. The Maharashtra United Nations Association (MUNA), under the Presidentship of Pheroza J. Godrej, organised a function to celebrate the occasion.

Pheroza Godrej, in her welcome speech, said: “The entire scenario has changed, turbulence is the order of the day worldwide and it would help to have our ‘rights?work like clockwork. Unfortunately, this remains and remained an unrealised dream even for generations gone by. People have always had to fight for their rights, the evidence of which is all around us ?whether it be the rights of children, women, the aged, the disabled, the press, religion and so on. We have with us today a distinguished array of personalities: upholders of justice, educationists, members of the international community and so on. We are at a time when we are deeply shaken by what is happening globally and more so locally, wherein we have lost trust and are disillusioned with the very authority empowered to enforce the law of the land.?/font>

B.L. Mungekar, Vice Chancellor, University of Mumbai, focused on the social aspect of human rights in India and the discrimination between castes and different religions in practising and respecting human rights, though they are uniform.

Mihir Desai, Advocate, Executive Chairperson ? India Centre for Human Rights and Law, traced the history of the human rights movement and its evolution since the Magna Carta was signed between England and France.

The Chief Guest, the Hon’ble Justice S.S. Parkar of the High Court at Mumbai, pointed out that human rights begin at birth. He outlined the role of social human rights and constitutional human rights and distinguished between fundamental rights and human rights. He added that as an advocate and judge of the High Court, he always championed human rights.

A.A. Syed
Secretary General, MUNA


African Safari

Blisters of Love

"Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me".

- Holy Bible, Matthew 25:40

e have always been told that we cannot really celebrate or enjoy Christmas if someone on that day remained hungry. This year I thought of sharing my Christmas meal with someone who was poor and in no position to celebrate Chirstmas. After the morning church services, I offered a lift to some people and, in the process, had to divert from my daily route.

After reaching them to their destinations, I noticed a lady with two children sitting by the roadside, waiting for people to drop coins. I stopped my car and called the lady. She came with one of her children, hands extended, expecting some coins. I asked her if she would like to come home to spend Christmas. She gratefully accepted my invitation, quickly gathered all she had in a bundle and entered the car with her children.

She gave her name as Mary Wanjiru and her age, 26. Her son David was three years old and her daughter Rose, a year old. The two men responsible for the birth of David and Rose had deserted her when she got pregnant.

On reaching my home, they didn't know what to do. I removed the children's clothes and put them for a wash. Then, I prepared a hot bath for them. Initially they were reluctant, but, later, they didn't want to come out of the bathtub! Mary had a bath, too, and wore a nightgown I gave her. After cutting her children's nails, she helped me with cooking, while David and Rose enjoyed watching cartoon shows on television. We then said a short prayer and sat down for lunch. The children relished the meal. After lunch, the three of them relaxed on the cot. David and Rose fell asleep almost instantly.

I then started washing their clothes, which were absolutely filthy. Even after the fifth wash, most of the dirt remained and my hands started developing blisters! I somehow managed to get the desired level of cleanliness and dried those clothes.

The children wanted to stay on in the evening. However, after some coaxing, they agreed to go for a drive. I took them to the nearest Matatu (a transport means) stop and gave them some money for their transport and, also, some pocket money. As they got out of my car, Mary thanked me. There were tears of gratitude in her eyes.

For me those tears conveyed everything that Christmas stands for. The blisters on my fingers are fading away, but the memory of those tears will remain with me for many years to come. Indeed it was one of my best Christmases ever!

Fredrick Correa, Godrej, Kenya.