OLASS is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. We empower poor and marginalized individuals and communities to lead the changes that they would like to see in their own communities -- whether greater access to justice for the poor, pro-poor urban governance and policy, or community-led in-situ upgrading and development.
Our work is community driven, community owned, and community sustained. Partner communities identify their needs and set priorities – e.g. addressing violence, strengthening land tenure, or building drainages. These priorities feed into all aspects of our work.
We bring technical expertise in law, advocacy, and community organizing to inform, strengthen and support community-led efforts to solve justice and development problems. For example, partner communities provide training spaces, nominate candidate paralegals, and chip in to support their own paralegals and strategic advocacy.
Our ultimate goal is to build the capacity of poor and marginalized individuals and help set up sustainable community-level and inter-community structures to support and leverage their efforts and resources to bring about lasting change.
Guiding all of OLASS’s work are three core principles:
1. Serving and empowering the poorest of the poor; 2. Promoting equality and non-discrimination; and 3. Standing firm against impunity and corruption.
OLASS constantly strives to overcome the barriers preventing the poorest individuals from accessing justice and benefiting from development efforts. OLASS facilitates equal representation and participation of women and men, and recognizes women’s unique capacity to work for the betterment of their families. Finally, OLASS supports communities in demanding accountability in the face of impunity and finding ways to access government or justice institutions without participating in everyday corruption.
What is our goal in the long run?
OLASS trains, monitors, and supports networks of individuals providing community-based paralegal services in rural and urban poor communities in Pakistan. Through the paralegal network and more broadly, OLASS supports movement-building and inter-community solidarity within and between poor and marginalized communities. When necessary, OLASS undertakes strategic advocacy or litigation to backstop the work of paralegals and the activities of the broader community-based movement.
Recognizing the power of locally generated information, OLASS supports community-level documentation and data collection as a foundation for all of its activities. Moreover, because complex problems require multi-dimensional responses, OLASS undertakes strategic collaboration with other organizations to leverage strengths and ensure lasting impact.