Friday, July 14, 2017

International intern Andrew Williamson reflects on five months with Natural Justice

International intern Andrew Williamson
An internship with Natural Justice (NJ) offers an opportunity to experience first-hand the work and dedication of an NGO within small team having a meaningful and significant impact. I was with Natural Justice from February 17 to July 17 in which I was welcomed into the team as an equal and was provided with an opportunity to really immerse myself into the daily work of the organisation and understand the importance and necessity of the work NJ does.

My time with NJ was shared with Dr. Catherine Traynor and Ms. Lesle Jansen which resulted in a variety of work related to climate change and access and benefit sharing. My work with Dr. Catherine Traynor centred on indigenous rights, community resources and bio-cultural protocols all of which served as a new insight into ongoing and detrimental effects of climate change in Southern Africa. The other half of the work I did at NJ focused on work related to indigenous communities on a national level alongside focusing on the ongoing activities related to Rooibos tea and a little bit of everything in between.

The variety and unexpected quantity and quality of work is something which I very much enjoyed while working with NJ. On any given day, you may be involved in workshops, interviews, meetings, conferences and field work with communities which really demonstrates the value of the work that everybody with NJ does. These daily activities bring together knowledge of the law, political aspects and science. 

Early morning view over the Richtersveld
(Photo credit: Andrew Williamson)
I was fortunate enough to participate in two field work trips, the first being to Kuboes in the Richtersveld area with the Nama people and the second to the Bushbukridge area in Mpumulanga where we met the Kukula traditional practitioners. Both of these areas are certainly not on the ‘tourist trail’ so to speak, but nevertheless provided experiences and personal interactions with community members which will certainly not be forgotten. The Kuboes trip focused on engaging with the community and a follow up to previous activities. With the Kukula, NJ reviewed the ongoing projects with the community and established future areas of work and objectives.

Overall an internship with NJ will provide a unique experience where you will be able to actively participate in every aspect of an NGO with a supportive and interesting team around you. Not only will you learn a significant amount of information related to South Africa both past and present but also the livelihoods and cultures of the communities NJ works with. And it goes without saying you have the opportunity to spend some quality time in the city of Cape Town which is superb! 

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