Is a Law and Human Rights internship in South Africa right for me?
This internship is ideal for you if you want to add practical law and human rights work experience to your CV, especially if you want to become a lawyer in the future. It’s also a good fit if you’re a law student interested in applying your studies to real-world situations.
You don’t need any previous experience to join this project. Your work will be guided by lawyers and human rights professionals, and they’ll teach you everything you need to know. This is a professional internship, so you need to be punctual, flexible, and prepared to work hard. You also need to have intermediate English skills, and be comfortable with speaking and writing.
Your level of experience does affect what you get involved with. If you have no experience, you’ll focus on social justice work. If you have some legal experience, you’ll get involved with ongoing legal cases and work directly with clients.
Our Law and Human Rights internship in South Africa runs year round, and you can join at any time from a minimum of two weeks. However, please be aware that this project closes over the Christmas and New Year period.
What will I do on a Law and Human Rights placement in South Africa?
You will work at the Projects Abroad Human Rights Office in Cape Town, alongside experienced lawyers and human rights professionals. Your placement will involve several kinds of tasks:
- Host legal clinics for community members who cannot come into the office
- Assist walk-in clients, conduct research, and draft legal documentation
- Attend court and conduct moot court hearings
- Present life skills, awareness, and rehabilitation workshops
Where will I work on a Law and Human Rights internship in South Africa?
You will live and work in Cape Town, known in South Africa as the “Mother City”. Cape Town is a beautiful and multicultural hub, and there is plenty to see and do in your free time and over weekends.
In Cape Town, there is still a large gap in equality and there is a lot of need in townships. Many people lack access to good legal advice and aren’t aware of some of their rights. In response to the need for free legal services in South Africa, we run and fund our own Projects Abroad Human Rights Office.
The collective mission of this office is to promote respect for human rights and human dignity. This is done through providing good quality, independent legal representation to those who are unable to afford it.
What is a typical day on this project like?
Each day, after breakfast with your host family, you will make your way to our Human Rights Office using a minibus taxi or train. On your first day, our staff will show you the easiest way to get there. It is also required that you dress professionally, as you will encounter clients visiting the office.
You can expect to work from 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Thursday. On Fridays our office is closed to clients due to weekly meetings, and you’ll work from 8.30am to 1pm.
This is what your week will look like if you focus on social justice work:
- Monday to Wednesday: In the mornings and afternoons, you’ll present workshops designed to teach life skills and raise awareness.
- Thursday: You’ll attend our social justice debriefing meeting, and spend time preparing workshops for the next week. You’ll do research on different topics, think of activities, and put together a presentation.
- Friday: Apart from your regular work, you’ll join the PAHRO internal review meeting, where you’ll inform your colleagues about your experiences on the social justice programmes.
If you have some legal knowledge and experience, your week will look like this:
- Monday to Thursday: Attend legal clinics, meet with walk-in clients at the office, and do legal research. You’ll also draft legal documents. You may also attend the social justice debriefing meetings to learn about what workshops are being presented.
- Friday: Continue with case work, research and consultations as usual. You’ll also join the internal review meeting. Here, you will be expected to give reports on the progress of your legal cases.
At the end of a working day, or over the weekend, you can explore and relax. Take a trip around the city, meet interns and volunteers from around the world at one of our regular socials, or relax at your host family home.
What are the aims of this project?
The aim of this project is to promote respect for human rights and human dignity. This is the collective mission of the Projects Abroad Human Rights Office. We do this by providing quality, independent legal representation, and raising awareness so people know what their basic rights are.
This work is especially important in Cape Town. In many disadvantaged communities, people struggle with legal issues, and lack awareness of their rights. They also can’t afford to pay for legal representation, which can be expensive.
You will become part of our efforts to answer these problems. You’ll help clients at legal clinics and at the office, and work with our staff to resolve cases. You’ll also get involved with sharing knowledge about basic human rights where it’s needed most, like a juvenile detention centre.
We have outlined three long-term goals in our Human Rights Management Plan for South Africa. These goals are:
- Providing legal service
- Ensuring the upholding of fair and equal social justice
- Raising awareness on human rights
Maria Mulindi, Projects Abroad Human Rights Project Manager in South Africa, states that “When you work in human rights in South Africa, you become very aware of the social inequality. You also come to understand the after effects of apartheid; how separation came about because of the Group Areas Act and how people were divided in terms of race. You come to understand that it might be post-apartheid; however, the life that was pre-1994 is still in existence and therefore people are still put in a state of need. A lot of the time people feel like they don’t have an arm with which to fight with. There are housing problems. And because of substance abuse, things like domestic violence become rife in the townships. The after effects of apartheid have not actually been dealt with."
Join a Law and Human Rights placement in South Africa today and help make a difference while gaining practical experience in the legal field.
Volunteering for professionals
This project is also perfect for qualified professionals. With your skills backing up our ongoing efforts, we can make an even bigger difference together. We'll match you to the placement where your skills are needed most.
This means you can share your training and and knowledge with others. You can work hand-in-hand with our partner organisations and local communities to support sustainable development.
If you have relevant skills or qualifications, read more about how you can make use of them with Projects Abroad.
Measuring our impact
Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.
Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.
Leisure activities and free time
Known as the Rainbow Nation, South Africa has a diverse mix of cultures. Our projects are based in Cape Town, a region filled with an exciting variety of activities to do during your free time.
You can catch a wave at Muizenberg beach or just relax in a seaside restaurant. There’s plenty of local cuisine to try, including delicately spiced Cape Malay curries and the creamy milk tart dessert.
South Africa has a difficult past, which you can learn more about at the District 6 Museum and Robben Island.
For an awe-inspiring experience, you can spend the day getting lost in the towering silos that make up the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Arts Africa. Finally, no trip to Cape Town would be complete without a cable car ride up iconic Table Mountain.
We run many different projects in South Africa, so there’s sure to be other volunteers in the country with you. So if you want to travel with a group, you’re sure to find like-minded people who’ll join you on your adventures.
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.
Meet the team in South Africa
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