There are unique practical challenges to doing legal work in the developing world.
Two rats sometimes frequent our office. One indomitable animal-lover named them Harold and Gerald. For context, this is the same intern who befriends the dogs outside our office that have been nicknamed “Virus” and “Train Wreck”, respectively.
A reporter who failed to appear at our office for an appointment called to say that she “was not accustomed to working in such areas as these.”
There is a small goat pen neighbouring the office, and every afternoon, about 30 of them scamper across the street. They jockey to plunge their snouts into feed buckets, ram each other in the head, and cause general havoc for the autos trying to navigate down the lane. Every week or so, a new set of animals hops off the back of a truck and trots merrily into their pens, where they unknowingly await their demise. You see, this happy little goat kingdom is actually a slaughter house.
Our third day leaving work, Mark froze mid step and turned me in horror.
“What is that?”
We had just passed the building, which was gated at the end of the day.
“No,” he said, shaking his head, “that cannot be a goat. That is a person. Just listen.”
A tortured wail warbled through the air. It was uncannily human, like something out of a horror movie.
“Trust me—I hear them from my window all day long; that is a goat. At least, it was a goat. But,” I started, my gaze traveling up the concrete building to a small, barred window, “if there were a person inside, no one would ever know.”
The most disturbing thing is that a few short weeks later, I had tuned out the noise completely.
There are, leaks, faulty electrical circuits, cramped spaces, and makeshift desks so small that you need a system in order to read and take notes at the same time. These are humble surroundings, to say the least. Yet, almost every one of my colleagues travels 1.5 to 2 hours each way, every day, to do this work. They spend up to 4 hours a day in sweaty, stinking buses and trains so packed that people who faint from the heat have no room to fall.
These people are my heroes. The work done through them, from this little office, is amazing. During our short time here, we have had 2 convictions in cases that we were told would be impossible to win. We have seen a notorious trafficker who is responsible for countless girls’ captivity, arrested. We have seen two sets of girls come out from years trapped in darkness and begin living in freedom. Daily, doors have opened in such ways that can only be described as miracles.
This is life doing small things with great love. Ride a train at rush hour, and you will start to understand.
Small things. Great love.