Post written by Emily Hoegler – “Learning to Serve Others”
This semester, I have the privilege of aiding Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) India in their efforts to defend non-government organizations (NGOs) from harmful governmental regulations.
ADF India is a legal advocacy organization that focuses on protecting fundamental freedoms and defending human dignity in India. In this project, ADF India is focusing on the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
The FCRA was originally established as a safeguard against foreign influence in India’s political and governmental affairs. However, after several amendments, the FCRA evolved into an act that heavily regulates NGOs receiving foreign aid and largely ignores political and governmental institutions.
It does this by creating unnecessary and onerous obstacles that prevent many NGOs from receiving vital sources of funding while broadening political and governmental institution’s access to foreign aid.
I am assisting ADF India by exploring the constitutionality of the FCRA. Specifically, I am researching the ways in which the FCRA violates the fundamental right to Freedom of Association.
Many NGOs in India are heavily- if not solely- funded by foreign contributions. Therefore, the FCRA’s crackdown on their ability to receive foreign aid has caused many NGOs to lose vital funding, severely hindering their ability to operate. Some NGOs have had to shut down due to lack of funding following FCRA regulations.
This is significant because NGOs carry out important work. Many of the NGOs that are being negatively impacted by the FCRA are human rights organizations working to protect the fundamental rights of India’s citizens. When these organizations are prevented from operating, Indian citizens lose the advocates that were fighting to defend their fundamental freedoms.
Therefore, ADF India is working to defend those who defend others, by protecting NGOs so that they can continue to serve the citizens of India.
I think many law students feel called to the legal profession because of a desire to help others. I also think many law students lose sight of that desire to help others in law school. Law school is a competitive, challenging, and stressful environment. It feels somewhat natural to fall back to the mindset of self-preservation in times of difficulty. For example, during my first semester of law school, I seldom thought about anything other than how many assignments I had, how much time I had to complete them, how well I understood them, and when I was going to find to time sleep. I did not notice how I was allowing myself to structure my days around self-service, rather than service of others.
When we orient our daily lives around the service of self, we develop a habit of self-service. I think this is a dangerous habit because it will be difficult to break after law school.
In other words, I think it is difficult to carry out a profession serving others when we do not serve others while we are preparing for the profession.
In the same way that we must master methods of legal analysis in law classes, we must also learn how to serve others so that we can carry out a profession of serving others.
I believe that the Center for Global Justice teaches us how to serve others in law school. This is because the Center allows students to volunteer their time to participate in its pro bono work assisting human rights advocates. Here, we are not competing for grades or recognition. Rather, we are working together with fellow students, faculty members, and human rights organizations to serve others.
For example, when I was reflecting on my assignment for ADF India, I realized that this is the first opportunity I have had to put the skills I have learned to use helping others, instead of just working towards improving my personal grades or class standing. This is important because God did not only call me to serve others one day in the future when I am a lawyer; He called me to serve others now. I am so grateful and humbled to work with an organization that emphasizes the importance of service in the training of law students and the legal profession, and I have learned so much about the importance of service from the Center already.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.