The Center for Victim and Human Rights (CVHR) is an organization that provides legal services for those in need. Their approach is two-tiered: They serve clients through a Crime Victim Rights Program, as well as through a Human Rights Program. The CVHR was borne from the personal experiences of Executive Director Raio Krishnayya. At different points in his career, he served as both a law enforcement officer and as a prosecutor. In each of these fields, Raio encountered victims in a variety of capacities. “[I] realized there was so much more they needed beyond the scope of my interaction with them,” he says. “The CVHR was conceived in my wanting to bridge the gap between their needs and what I saw was currently available.”
The nonprofit he created from this desire, however, became about much more than just providing services. After suffering from a nearly fatal bout of malaria while he was in India many years ago, Raio began to understand the connection between compassion and justice. “I wanted to build a place that incorporated those values into everything we did,” he says. Over the course of his career, he often saw an imbalance of justice that disproportionately affected survivors in a negative way—and he wanted CVHR to fight against that.
The CVHR executes its mission through many kinds of legal services, including Asylum, Protective Orders, VAWA, U visa, T visa, Special Immigrant Juvenile, crime victim rights enforcement, and more. In its ten years alone, CVHR has provided services to approximately 1800 clients.
One of Raio’s favorite client stories involves Manoj Rana. While he was a student at Purdue’s Calumet campus, Manoj survived an apartment fire that was set by a neighbor’s estranged husband. After more than 50 surgeries and working for years with CVHR to receive a U visa, Manoj is now part of a financial management team for a major hospital in Chicago, and he also sits on the CVHR board.
In spite of their many successes, like any nonprofit, CVHR also faces many challenges. Raio explains that sometimes just getting people to understand the need to support free legal services can be difficult. “This work is not about ‘funding attorneys,’” he says. “This is about creating access to justice, ensuring that everyone, especially the most vulnerable, have access to those legal remedies that will restore the balance of justice.”
For this reason, Raio sees the CVHR partnership with the Legal Clinic as especially vital. “We’re able to pool resources to cover as many legal needs as possible,” he says. “The problems faced by our clients are multiple and complex. Only through our partnerships can we hope to solve these problems.”
To learn more about the Center for Victim and Human Rights, please visit their website.