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Ruth Gachanja

Ruth GachanjaAdvocate of the High Court of Kenya

LLM Minorities, Rights & the Law, 2012

What were you doing before joining Middlesex?

I am an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, so I was representing child victims of abuse in court as well as conducting child rights training to law enforcement agents.

What made you decide to study at Middlesex?

My father is a Middlesex alumni, and I also met the former Vice-Chancellor, Prof Michael Driscoll, on his visit to Kenya and we had an interesting discussion on human rights and he assured me that I would enjoy my time at Middlesex University.

What skills or knowledge did you gain while at Middlesex?

I gained a lot of knowledge on the area of minorities rights, and though my bias was towards child rights, I gained knowledge about other minorities as well.

Because the course was research intensive, I gained proper research and presentation skills.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

The Course was taught by fantastic lecturers. Dr. Jeremy Gilbert, Dr. David Keane and Prof. Joshua Castellino, to name just a few, were knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects. This made the class discussion very interactive and interesting. I also enjoyed the selection of courses that the students is given to select from.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

My fondest memories of life at Middlesex comprise of having discussions with our lecturers about various aspects of human rights, like the correlation between human rights and international criminal law. I will also never forget, Prof. Castellino’s knowledge on constitutional law. He came to class and described the constitutional making processes of all the countries represented in class. That was something!

How has doing this course changed your life and/or career?

This course changed my career because of the diverse exposure it gave me. I am now equipped to work in a variety of sectors, either policy formulation or direct service provision.

The skills I gained in research, writing and presentation have certainly played an important role in my career progress so far. I am now often invited to advise and present on formulation of policies towards age minorities.

What made you choose human rights work and what are the benefits and challenges?

I have always been passionate about child rights and so I knew I would take a path that would lead me to being a voice for children today, because I believe that all too often children are seen and not heard. I do also enjoy that human rights work is dynamic and therefore keeps me on my toes.

The benefits of doing human rights work, especially advocacy and lobbying, is that you see the change and feel the change. It changes the lives of human beings and in one way or another makes the world a better place.

The challenge is that it can be heart-wrenching, especially when working with the children, to hear stories of abuse and violence. It also takes time. It takes time to change legislation, to go to court and also to effect change in behavior and attitudes.

How did you break into this line of work?

As I said, I knew this is what I wanted to do from a very early age so, all my internships were focused on Human Rights and with a biased on Child rights. I have ensured that my career revolved around child rights.

What are your biggest achievements since leaving?

  • Chairing the Advisory Committee on Counter trafficking in Persons
  • Leading Child Rights NGOS on writing a paper on the situation of children and presenting the same during the Universal Periodic Reporting  process in Geneva.
  • Heading a top Child Rights organization knows as The CRADLE-The Children Foundation

What does the future hold for you?

I hope to continue agitating for child rights to the highest office in the spectrum of human rights as well as undertake my PHD.

What are the top career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?

  1. Start somewhere: Internships or volunteer programs. Sometimes we spend too much waiting idle for the big break, instead we could put our knowledge into use and develop different skills, even if it doesn’t pay very well.
  2. Whatever you are given to do, go the extra mile. Stand out from everyone else.
  3. Persistence. Knock until that door is open.
  4. Get a friend/mentor to help you through this journey.

If you could choose three reasons to recommend Middlesex to a friend, what would they be and why?

  1. The fact that they have a “meet and greet” at the airport. So, if it is your first time in the UK, you don’t feel lost or alone.
  2. The Sheppard’s library. Well-equipped and has a great ambiance.
  3. The Lecturers are super friendly and helpful. They go out of their way to help with research materials and even help to find internships.

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