Impact & Opinions | Tionchar & Tuairimí

From Ethiopia to Galway: Pursuing justice across the world
Featured Image: Bethlehem Solomon at University of Galway, prepping for the Moot Court, University of Galway
edition-image
Global Impact Edition

From Ethiopia to Galway: Pursuing justice across the world

10 June 24
 | 
4.7
(6)
 STARS
 | 12 MINS

What are the chances that the paths of two student activists from Ethiopia would cross thousands of kilometres from home? Serendipity has been at work here in the University to bring together two law students, Bethlehem Solomon and Kidist Abebe, both natives of Ethiopia. Now they have joined forces in pursuit of justice and a more equitable world. Their experiences have convinced them of the need for collaboration to achieve these aims and led to them combining their expertise to build on what each has already achieved.

 

 

 

From Ethiopia to Galway: Pursuing justice across the world
Kidist Abebe celebrating Christmas in Galway City, Ireland.

Ethiopia, our homeland

From the ancient rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and the historical walls of Harari to the vibrant streets of Galway, our journey has been a testament to unwavering commitment to access to justice. Ethiopia is the origin not only civilisations but also where justice was once the root.

 

Bethlehem’s journey: inspired by a passion for social justice

I, Bethlehem, was born in the small town of Lalibela, Ethiopia, where my formative years were shaped by the stark realities of inequality and the challenges faced by marginalised communities in accessing legal representation. As the years went by, I realised that not only did access to justice need to be improved but also justice itself. Fuelled by a deep passion for social justice, I pursued a law degree at Addis Ababa University, to lay the foundation for my future work. For some years I undertook various internships, from minor community police posts to roles in the Federal Supreme Court, and subsequently the roles of director and legal consultant in both civil society and business associations. These experiences taught me that there are always problems to be solved. It is true what they say: If not you, who? If not now, when?

As a result of my experiences, I co-founded a local initiative that provides free legal aid and rehabilitation services to underserved communities, ensuring that those denied access to justice could have their voices heard and their rights upheld. Currently, the initiative is teaching police officers and prisoners about methods of enhancing human rights, through the medium of legal aid and case studies. I know there is only so much we can do, but working on a piece of the whole is enough. Doing my Master’s at the renowned Irish Centre for Human Rights was a crucial step, as education is essential to finding solutions. I chose the General Master’s Degree (LLM) with the aim of acquiring knowledge of various areas of the law. This led to my representing the University of Galway in a commercial arbitration competition.

Kidist’s journey: working towards equity

Similar to Bethlehem, I, Kidist, sought and still seek solutions to at least some of today’s problems. For four years I served as a public prosecutor at the Harari Anti-Corruption Commission, playing a pivotal role in combatting corruption and upholding the rule of law even when the environment was not conducive to this. My experiences exposed me to the intricate web of power dynamics and the profound impact that corruption can have on the fabric of society, fuelling my determination to effect realistic change on the ground.

After this, I went into public procurement, where I honed my craft as a legal expert within various government agencies. This exposure gave me a comprehensive understanding of the intricate systems that govern the allocation of resources, and the importance of transparency and accountability in ensuring equitable distribution. Eventually I made it to the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the University of Galway, studying International Migration and Refugee Law and Policy (LLM).

Now, as Master's students at the University of Galway, our individual journeys have converged on a shared path, merging into a collective force for human rights and access to justice.

Bethlehem Solomon
From Ethiopia to Galway: Pursuing justice across the world
Pictured are Kidist Abebe and Bethlehem Solomon

Joining forces in pursuit of human rights and justice

Now, as Master’s students at the University of Galway, our individual journeys have converged on a shared path, merging into a collective force for human rights and access to justice. Our chosen field of study is a natural extension of our lifelong commitment, equipping us with the necessary tools to tackle complex issues and navigate the intricate landscapes of law, policy and advocacy.

 

The transformative power of women

Our quest for justice and equality stems from the understanding that women are the bedrock of every community, the very foundation upon which lasting peace and progress are built. We have witnessed first-hand how societies that uplift and empower women are more likely to thrive, as mothers, daughters and sisters become catalysts for positive change. Our roles as legal professionals have taught us that true justice cannot be achieved until the voices of women are heard, their rights protected, and their contributions valued. It is when we, as women, stand firmly on the side of right that communities begin to heal from the wounds of oppression, inequality and injustice. Through our legal work, whether as public prosecutor or in corporate or human rights law, we have aimed to break down barriers and pave the way for a more equitable future. Our stories attest to the transformative power that women possess when enabled to lead, inspire and shape their societies towards greater justice, compassion and unity.

ሀምሳ ሎሚ ለሀምሳ ሰው ጌጡ ለአንዱ ሰው ሸክሙ ነው ። Carrying 50 lemons is a burden for one person but a jewel for 50 people.

Amharic proverb:
From Ethiopia to Galway: Pursuing justice across the world
Ethiopia at a glance; By Laureate Maitre Artist Afewerk Tekle

Collaboration turns a burden into a jewel

Through our studies we aim to deepen our knowledge, sharpen our skills and forge connections that will enable us to effect meaningful change. Our stories are reminders that determination, coupled with a genuine desire to make a difference, can have a ripple effect that transcends borders and backgrounds. As we forge our paths, our voices resonate in hope, reminding us that the pursuit of a more just world is a collective responsibility that requires the commitment of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. In sharing our stories, we shed light on the struggles and challenges that countless people face in their pursuit of justice and equal opportunity. Our narratives are calls to action, reminding us of the urgency of addressing the persistent injustices that plague our world and working towards a more equitable, inclusive society for all.

 

ሀምሳ ሎሚ ለሀምሳ ሰው ጌጡ ለአንዱ ሰው ሸክሙ ነው ። (In Amharic)
Carrying 50 lemons is a burden for one person but a jewel for 50 people.

 

While the weight of pursuing justice may seem an unbearable burden for any one person, when we unite our efforts, that very load becomes a precious jewel that illuminates the path forward for us all. We all need to take on a share of this sacred work, recognising that by dividing up the toil, we multiply our collective strength and hasten towards a fairer world. We hope our stories inspire others and foster a global dialogue that transcends borders, cultures and ideologies, reminding us that we are part of a shared human experience – one that demands our resolute commitment to creating a more just, equitable and compassionate world for all.

Profiles

profile-photo
Bethlehem Solomon, LLM (General) Student, University of Galway

Bethlehem Solomon studied a Law degree at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and is currently studying LLM in University of Galway.
During her studies in Addis Ababa University, she undertook various internships, from community police posts to roles in the Federal Supreme Court, and subsequently the roles of director and legal consultant in both civil society and business associations.
Afterwards, Bethlehem co-founded a local initiative that provides free legal aid and rehabilitation services to underserved communities. This initiative is teaching police officers and prisoners about methods of enhancing human rights, through the medium of legal aid and case studies.

RATE

4.7 / 5. Vote count: 6

Discover More

Keep up to date on the latest from us straight to your inbox

Privacy policy