Advocacy and Human Rights Internship with NGO

Do you have an interest in migration and refugee issues, and a passion for legally assisting refugees? This exciting opportunity might be exactly what you are looking for. During this Advocacy and Human Rights Internship, you will be working on the Advocacy Programme that offers legal advice and practical assistance with a special focus on vulnerable individuals, with the aim to ensure that their rights are respected. You will be assisting with asylum application processes, documenting and following up on hate crime/xenophobic incidents, researching South African legislation and refugee issues in Africa or dealing with unaccompanied minor projects. An excellent opportunity to make an impact and contribute to cultural, social and economic integration between migrants, refugees, and South Africans.

Quick Facts

  • Destination Cape Town
  • Type of Organization Nonprofit
  • Work focus Human rights, refugee law & migration issues
  • Length of internship 6 months
  • Accommodation Choice of several types
  • Fee on demand

This organization started in Cape Town in 1994 as religious assistance to different communities of migrants but soon expanded to offering more tangible assistance as they were confronted with the problems experienced by refugees from Angola, the Congos, Rwanda, Burundi and other African communities. In 2003 a secular non-government organization was started to run these projects, the Scalabrini Center of Cape Town (SCCT).

Migration is perceived as an opportunity by this organization, so they are on a mission to alleviate poverty and promoting development in the Western Cape while fostering cultural, social and economic integration between migrants, refugees, and South Africans. In providing their assistance they advocate respect for human rights and use a holistic approach that considers all basic needs.

Every month around 2000 people visit the center, which offers service through six main programme areas:

  • Advocacy: Protecting, promoting and advancing the rights and freedoms of migrants and refugees by providing paralegal advice and practical assistance to individuals on a walk-in basis. In addition, this team works on driving deeper systemic change in the South African society and immigration and asylum systems.
  • English School: Providing a specialized English language school for refugees and migrants.
  • Employment Access: Providing a gateway to employment by providing support to foreign nationals who are legally entitled to look for work in South Africa. The organization provides a combination of skills training, professional development, and resources needed for success in the job market.
  • Unite: A unique extra-curricular curriculum for grade 8-11, which provokes a deep exploration of the themes of identity, integration, and diversity to promote activism and critical thought in youth living in South Africa.
  • Welfare: Accessing services for migrants and refugees in need. Through a process of consultation, they assist individuals to access basic services such as medical care, schooling, shelter, South African Social Grants (SASSA grants) and assistance with advice/application for voluntary repatriation.
  • Women’s Platform: A multi-national network of women that strengthens individuals to enhance economic independence and integration into the broader South African community.

Scalabrini  Womens Platform

Projects you will be working on

During this internship, you will be working on the Advocacy Programme that offers legal advice and practical assistance with a special focus on vulnerable individuals, with the aim to ensure that their rights are respected. While the programme takes on any kind of issues related to discrimination due to someone’s nationality, the programme has a particular focus on the needs and protection of persons affected by xenophobic violence, disabled refugees, and protection of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children. In addition to assisting individuals, the programme also conducts ‘higher level’ advocacy with the aim to change legislation and ensure the implementation of existing laws and procedures. You will assist in the following areas:

  • Documentation: Information and referrals regarding asylum application process, expired documentation/permits, appeal process, repatriation
  • Hate Crimes/Xenophobic Incidents: interview to document details and follow up of individual cases where needed (contact police stations, South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), counseling, etc.)
  • Children’s Project:
    • Research: compiling research on policies and practices relevant to unaccompanied
      and separated minors in South Africa and on a comparative level
    • Casework: assisting the Advocacy Officer in advising clients with regards to
      unaccompanied and separated minors, upkeep of Children’s Project database,
      assistance with translation if applicable, with the guidance of the Advocacy Officer
    • Individual assistance: making referrals and sometimes accompanying clients to
      services, with the guidance of the Advocacy Officer
  • Research: South African government legislation and refugee issues in Africa

Your responsibilities

  • Assist the advocacy officers with upcoming tasks, eg: research on the specific project related issues, phone calls.
  • Assist with the management of files for individual cases
  • Participate in stakeholder forums
  • Compile a weekly press review from newspapers and internet sources on relevant topics
  • Assist with other tasks that are necessary for the daily business of the organization, eg: cover reception

In general, your tasks will also strongly depend on your previous knowledge, skills, and personal interests. If possible, the organization will try to create a small project that you will be able to lead. The type of project will depend on other projects that are running at the moment and on the current political situation. An example could be a research-oriented project that involves creating a survey, conducting interviews and compiling the collective data.

This organization also offers internships in Communications, English SchoolFemale empowerment, Empowerment of Refugees Internship or a 3-month all-round position.

NB. Please note that the internship is based on a volunteer work placement, so you are not receiving any payment or stipend.

Where you’ll stay

Your accommodation is included in the internship fee, and we’ll arrange it all for you! We’re excited to offer a variety of options, ranging from dorm rooms to twin and single rooms. The options available depend on your internship period, but we’ll always make sure you’re in a comfortable, central, and safe place. Please get in touch to find out what options are available during your preferred period.

Guesthouse  Guesthouse


  • Academic background in a related area such as Political Sciences, Human Rights, Law, etc.
  • Previous practical experience in working with refugees/migrants
  • Knowledge of refugee law and/or migrant issues
  • Pro-active engagement and willingness to get involved in the organization’s various activities
  • Good communication and administrative skills
  • Fluent English skills are necessary. Knowledge of French, Swahili, Lingala, Somali, Arabic or
    Portuguese is an advantage
  • You should be highly motivated to learn about issues related to refugees and migration in
    South Africa and be an independent worker capable of doing their own research
  • Practical, neat, organized and motivated

The Application Process

If you’re keen on this work placement and feel that you could make a good contribution, we’d love to hear from you! Here’s what to do:

  1. Fill in the  (it will show in a slider pop-up!) and send us your CV.
  2. If we might have a placement available for you, we’ll chat with you on the phone or Skype to go through your application and make sure it’s a good match.
  3. We’ll set up a call between you and the person who would be your supervisor during the work placement.
  4. If everyone’s happy, we’ll provisionally confirm your placement! We’ll then send you the invoice for the deposit, get started with a detailed booking form, and we’ll give you all the information you need to prepare for your upcoming adventure.
  5. Only once we receive payment of the deposit your placement will be confirmed.

Or if you’d just like to ask us some questions about this internship first, just shoot us an email, or fill in the contact form. We’ll be happy to assist!

When can you start making an impact?
You can start your internship every week, so your final starting date is based on what suits you and the organization the best.


At Roots, we do everything we can to make your internship experience smooth and hassle-free. We offer an all-inclusive service, which means we will help you find the right internship (we believe we are great matchmakers!), help you with visa arrangements, book accommodation for you in Cape Town, give you all the pre-departure information you need before arriving, pick you up from the airport and check in with you while on your work placement to ensure you feel supported.

Your exact fee depends on the accommodation you choose, but start at the following level:
24 weeks – USD 3,507

What is included in the fee?

  • Full accommodation rental fees
  • Transfer from Cape Town International airport to your accommodation and back on arrival and departure day
  • Assistance with finding the perfect work placement
  • Assistance with your visa arrangement & other preparations
  • On the ground support during your stay
  • A discount on weekend activities, exclusive to Roots interns

What is not included in the fee?

  • Flights to Cape Town
  • Visa, medical and travel insurance costs for the duration of your placement – must include cover for repatriation
  • Meals, drinks, snacks, and items of personal nature (f.e. curios, gifts, clothing).
  • Costs for additional excursions or activities

Optional extra

Academic Guidance Apart from the logistical support we offer, and regular check-ins, we also offer additional academic guidance during your internship. At an additional fee of USD 75 a month, you’ll receive monthly sessions with a local lecturer, who will support you in placing your work experience in the context of your academic course, and assist you with any report writing and/or research you’re required to do.

We'd love to hear from you! Leave a message, and we'll get back to you shortly to help find you a valuable work placement where you can make an impact.

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