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At their annual gala last night, the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation (PAIR) project recognized Dimagi as a Business Leader in Human Rights. Dimagi was one of eight awardees recognized, the majority being individuals that provide pro bono services towards asylum seekers and immigrants.

Dimagi’s Manager of Legal Strategy and Operations Arya Shekar accepted the award on behalf of Dimagi. After graduating from law school, Arya worked closely with PAIR through a Public Interest Fellowship. In the post below, Arya writes about her own passion for human rights and about Dimagi’s work in this area.

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When I graduated from law school, I received a Public Interest Fellowship to work with David McHaffey, one of the most sought after asylum attorneys in the United States.  David serves on the Executive Board of the PAIR (Political Asylum/Immigration Representation) Project in Boston, which provides free legal representation to refugee and asylum seekers from all over the world.  In my work with him, I had the privilege of facilitating BU Law’s first Immigration/Detention Clinic, in which law students effectively learned how to represent PAIR’s detained clients.

Because I did not see myself becoming an immigration attorney in the long run, I eventually left that world to come to a new one.  This was the world of international development, technological innovation, and global access to healthcare:  the world of being an in-house lawyer at Dimagi.  To be honest, I never really saw the two worlds colliding–never until yesterday, when the PAIR Project, for its 25th anniversary, decided to present Dimagi an award for being a Business Leader in Human Rights.

The PAIR Project recognized Dimagi because PAIR’s clients come from several of the same countries Dimagi works in.  However, I think the connection goes beyond that:  The two organizations share a simple common premise that is rooted in the principles of Universal Human Rights.Why is Dimagi a Business Leader in Human Rights?  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25, states:”Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
Dimagi uses mobile technology to provide community health workers and other frontline workers all over the world with a convenient tool to keep track of the social services they provide.  By facilitating better record keeping, better follow-up visits with patients, better delivery of medicines, and better emergency response timing, Dimagi’s work aims to not only save the lives of the disenfranchised, the sick, the disabled, and the soon-to-be-born;  it also presupposes that everyone, regardless of his/her economic background, has a right to basic health, well-being, and financial security.  In this very important sense, Dimagi’s work ultimately furthers the objectives of Human Rights advocacy around the world.

It is appropriate then, that an organization like the PAIR Project would choose to highlight the efforts of Dimagi to address social inequalities in a sustainable way.  For these reasons, yesterday was a proud moment for me as an attorney and as a member of the amazing staff at Dimagi.  The future of human rights advocacy, as I learned from this experience, is growing in new, innovative, and exciting directions, and it is a privilege to be part of that future.