By: Roseanne Hope, US Lawyer
My name is Roseanne Hope, and I am a corporate lawyer from the US, who is on an around-the-world vacation, which includes volunteer work. By using my legal skills, business background and experience in non-profit leadership, I want to give back to the community, and to experience local cultures, as I journey.
After I arrived in Chiang Mai, to work as an English teacher with Friends for Asia, I met some members of the BABSEACLE Trio for Justice Walk/Run Marathon team, with whom I shared passions for social justice, SE Asian culture and running. The Pre Trio marathon dinner was an amazing event, with cultural performances by attendees from Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Australia, England, Singapore and the USA. Wonderful food was prepared by the BABSEACLE staff, by volunteers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and by several women from the Chiang Mai Wat Sai Moon Myanmar Temple. The Heuy Teung Tao Park course was beautiful, the race was well organized, and I hope to run in the 6th Annual Trio for Justice, in 2015, with my runner friends from the USA. I then helped to develop manuals for the Trio and Access for Justice, and have worked on the October 2014, Singapore Pro Bono Conference.
I learned a lot from BABSEACLE co directors, Bruce Lasky and Wendy Morrish, about preparing a grant proposal to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), regarding community legal education on social justice issues, in Myanmar. BABSEACLE had recently completed another successful UNDP Myanmar project, for which I helped write the Final Report. BABSEACLE is working with the Ministry of Education to include social justice and pro bono work in the curriculums of all 18 Myanmar law departments.
I was then present at a conference for the official signing of the Legal Sector Master Legal Plan Implementation, in Vientiane, Laos. This Plan will help Laos to become a rule of law state that emphasizes human rights and full access to justice. In attendance were several high-ranking members of the Laos government, including the Director of the Ministry of Justice, the ambassadors of the USA, France, EU and the UN, many professors and staff from Lux Development and the Laos Legal Clinic, and Tip Nouansyvong, from BABSEACLE. Later, I helped Professor Don Peters, Pa Thephithuck (BABSEACLE Fellow) and Bounleuth Xaphakdy (The FLP CLE Legal Clinic Director) review the client-counseling curriculum, at the National University of Laos law school Pro Bono Clinic.
During my one month volunteer period I was very grateful to work at BABSEACLE, and to learn about the excellent work that they are doing to make access to justice a priority.