Social Services

PLEASE NOTE: HRI does NOT provide sponsorship, housing, or other social help to individuals or families in detention centers. We are unable to respond to these types of requests. In addition, HRI does not provide social services to anyone who is not a legal client (someone whose legal case we have already accepted after completion of our intake process).


Human Rights Initiative’s primary service is providing free, high quality legal representation to the victims of human rights abuses. However, many HRI clients also suffer from a host of other issues that often impact or hinder their ability to assist in their legal cases. These issues range from little to no medical or dental care for lingering issues related to the trauma they endured, lack of access to adequate food and clothing, and no psychological counseling to process the violence they went through.

In addition, U.S. law prevents most of our clients from working as they go through the legal process. As a result, they often find themselves dependent on the goodwill of generous acquaintances to provide for all of their basic needs, and often go without basic necessities and avoid discussing medical or psychological issues in order to avoid putting further burden on their hosts.

Cultural and language barriers are also an impediment to a client’s access to services, in addition to their lack of legal status. They may be turned away from a social service they could otherwise qualify for because of confusion regarding their eligibility and status, inability to clearly communicate, or inability to provide the paperwork often required to prove lack of income.

The Social Services department at HRI, therefore, was established to provide a range of services that are designed to help each client cope with the initial stress of fleeing his or her home country, and begin healing from the trauma they experienced. The Social Services department attempts to help our clients from falling through the cracks.

Holiday Wish Program

The Holiday Wish program at HRI brings the joy of the season to our clients, many of whom are struggling and dealing with the worries and anxiety surrounding their legal cases. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, the Holiday Wish program is able to lend a hand to our neediest clients and their children through the purchase of gifts, in addition to grocery gift cards to purchase food for the holidays.

We hope you will consider participating in this worthwhile and meaningful program by sponsoring a family and shopping for one or more items on their wish list or donating so that HRI and its volunteers can shop for you. For more information on our program, as well as how to sign up, please click here!

Essentials for Life Program

This program offers the opportunity for volunteers and donors to organize or participate in supply drives, so we may provide our clients with blankets and warm winter clothing items, as well as hygiene items such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary pads, and personal razors; and other essential supplies such as baby items.

Health Professionals For Human Rights Program

volunteer doctorsOur volunteer health professionals provide forensic medical examinations, psychological evaluations, or other services to our clients.  Volunteer physicians, psychologists, and counselors can be vital to the legal process, as they often help to substantiate any physical evidence and/or psychological trauma left behind from the torture some of our clients have experienced.

For more information about our Social Services department or any of its programs, please contact Zainab Ellis at