Q: How Can You Help?
OLASS is people-powered. Without partners, supporters, advocates, friends, and allies, our work would not be possible. Join this effort by donating (funding, services, or in-kind contributions) to OLASS. Donations by check or wired transfer can be made to OLASS. on Account No. 00210004, The Bank of Khyber, Main Bazar (0149) Chakdara, Pakistan. You can also give us stock donations, in kind contributions, or any other kind of donation, please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and put "DONATION" in the subject-line. Your donation allows OLASS to empower individuals living in poverty with the tools that they need to change their lives. Whether supporting a community-led upgrading process, or bringing free legal services to the poorest of the poor, OLASS's commitment is that 100% of all donations directly support the communities we serve.
Q: Where We Work?
For decades, Pakistanies have learned to survive without any expectation of justice, good governance or public goods (such as electricity, water, security). Lifetimes of experience have also taught ordinary citizens the resounding lesson not to fight the powerful, from Government to other. The effects are felt across society, but nowhere more than in poor or otherwise marginalized communities where survival too often means living with compromised leadership, corruption, and pervasive injustice. For these communities, forced eviction, displacement, land grab, environmental degradation, police extortion and harassment, and other rights violations have become a part of daily life. Meaningful participation in political processes and access to justice are limited by myriad factors such as cost, education, location, and everyday corruption – compounded by a prevailing legal/justice system that is adverse to the rights of the poor.
What results is pervasive distrust of government and lack of faith in rights and accountability mechanisms. The positive flipside of this is the tenacity and resilience of poor communities to provide for themselves, where possible – through local-level governance, community-led and financed development initiatives (e.g. provision of water, electricity, sanitation, roads, and security), and alternative means of settling disputes and justice problems. OLASS builds on such local resilience and the power of collective voice to strengthen the capacity of poor and marginalized communities to hold the powerful accountable from the bottom up.
Q: What we do and How we do it?
Community-based paralegal services
OLASS’s community-based paralegals provide basic justice services to rural and urban poor communities, employing dispute resolution, legal empowerment, and community mobilization techniques. Paralegals work proactively with and in their own communities to identify and address areas of broad concern that include collective needs (e.g. access to basic services, environmental pollution, large-scale land grabs) and individual needs (e.g. employment disputes, conflicts over land, property or inheritance, domestic violence, and police brutality). Accordingly, paralegals legally empower others through greater access to informal and institutional (formal) justice systems. OLASS builds upon lessons learned in Pakistan and elsewhere to develop a sustainable, community-owned paralegal model that:
1. Brings resources, training, and support directly to poor and marginalized communities;
2. Incorporates robust community engagement and ownership with strong sustainability-focused support systems for paralegals; and
3. Facilitates collaboration among paralegal programs, other civil society organizations, and probono lawyers.
Movement-building & inter-community solidarity
OLASS supports a growing movement of the urban poor in Pakistan by empowering poor and marginalized individuals and communities with strategies to work together to solve the challenges they face.
Strategic advocacy & litigation
OLASS provides direct litigation and advocacy support to individuals and communities in need. Priorities for strategic litigation and advocacy are identified by communities. OLASS undertakes litigation before Pakistan courts, regional/international human rights bodies, and advocacy before other forums. To make these activities sustainable, OLASS works with paralegals and member communities to establish community-managed strategic litigation and advocacy funds. OLASS has also built a broad referral network among complementary civil society organizations and pro bono lawyers.