Refugee Empowerment Internship in Cape Town

HELP Promote social-economic integration of asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants

If you have an interest in refugee issues and the desire to gain some impactful and hands-on work experience, this internship in Cape Town could be a great fit for you. You’ll join a South African NGO that’s dedicated to the socio-economic integration of asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants; vulnerable groups in South African society. They do this by providing multi-faceted support to individuals, designed to provide access to health services, support people with practical challenges, and   facilitate access to employment.

During this Refugee Empowerment Internship, you will provide one-on-one support to refugees, and you’ll help to create and implement an action plan for each individual. This can involve setting people up with relevant counselling, providing housing solutions, or assisting individual clients with the job application process; it’s an all-round process. You might also get involved in the coordination, development, and monitoring and evaluation processes of this nonprofit program.

Learning outcomes of this Refugee Empowerment Internship;

  • A thorough understanding of the often multifaceted needs of refugees and asylum seekers, particularly in a South African context
  • Practical, all-round work experience in working directly with refugees
  • Insights into the day to day running of a refugee charity
  • A chance to develop your communication skills
  • The ability to work in and adapt to different cultures


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.


During this internship you will placed either on the Welfare or Employment Access program.

What you’ll do

As an intern, your tasks can vary according to the needs of the organization and your individual skills, but they are likely to include;

Welfare program

  • Assist the welfare team in assessing how to best help the clients and developing an action plan (of finding solutions for special cases)
  • Referring clients to other sources of help (f.e. legal support, housing, medical health, etc.) using written referral forms
  • Record keeping
  • Home visits to the most marginalized and vulnerable clients
  • Monitoring & Evaluation to ensure effectiveness of the welfare team

Employment Access program

  • Working on the Employment Help Desk, which involves developing CVs and cover letters for clients. creating e-mail accounts for clients, and assisting them with finding relevant job opportunities.
  • Assisting with the Skills Training Program, a series of workshops aimed to provide job readiness skills to clients, and to increase their confidence and chances of securing employment. You might help with designing and hosting these workshops.
  • Providing one on one sessions with refugees or asylum seekers and creating and implementing an action plan that will support each individual’s integration into South African society as much as possible. This can involve providing access to relevant health or counselling services, assisting with visa processes or other practical challenges, and finding legal support.
  • Assisting with overall management and coordination tasks, which can involve answer emails, collecting data, and helping with administrative tasks.
  • Self-motivated, self-disciplined and hardworking
  • Patient, diligent, and have a good eye for detail
  • Good oral and written communication skills (English essential, French an advantage)
  • Active listener and emotional intelligence
  • Interest in interacting with people from different backgrounds and cultures
  • Client orientated and passionate about serving clients in their pursuit towards self-reliance in South Africa
  • Respect and understanding of our client’s circumstances, while maintaining professional boundaries
  • Minimum availability of 5 months preferred


You’ll be staying at the Lenox, a comfortable guest house in the heart of Cape Town. Built in the old Cape Dutch style, the Lenox is characterful and spacious. It has a garden with a barbeque area, a large dining room, and several other communal spaces. Shared bedrooms take four to eight people, and there are plenty of single rooms available as well (at an extra fee). You’ll be walking distance from a wide range of shops, cafes and restaurants, and at a great spot for some of the touristy highlights Cape Town has to offer as well. (As well as for views of Table Mountain!)


You can start your internship every week, so your final starting date is based on what suits you and the organization the best. Please keep in mind this organization is closed for four weeks of summer holiday in December and January.

What you’ll pay (2023 rates)

5 MONTHS USD 3,517
6 MONTHS USD 4,084

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.

what you are paying for:
  • Transfer from Cape Town International airport to your accommodation and back on arrival and departure day
  • Accommodation based on a shared room (2 pax). If you prefer a single room, please contact us for availability and prices
  • Two meals (breakfast and dinner) a day from Monday to Friday
  • Assistance with your visa arrangement & other preparations
  • On the ground support during your stay
  • Free WiFi
  • Assistance with finding the perfect work placement
  • Supervision during your internship
  • Check-in and feedback as well as a reference letter after your internship
  • Your own account on a career development platform that offers content and courses focused on exploring different career opportunities
  • Reference letter at the end of your internship
  • A discount on weekend activities, exclusive to Roots interns
  • Flights
  • Visa, medical and travel insurance costs for the duration of your placement – must include cover for repatriation
  • Lunch, drinks, snacks, and items of personal nature (f.e. curios, gifts, clothing)
  • Meals during the weekend
  • Transport to the office
  • Costs for additional excursions or activities
Cape Town, South Africa
Social NGO
Refugees and migrants, skills development, monitoring, reporting, social welfare
Min. 5 months
From USD 3,517

The feeling of knowing that my work here has an actual impact. Giving gives one so much more than taking. The biggest fulfillment is to know that someone found a job and can stay in the country, because I found a placement for them and guided them along the way.

Bailey, United StatesRefugee Empowerment Internship, Cape Town
  • Help promote the social-economic integration of asylum seekers, refugees, migrants by offering individual and customised support
  • Get involved with skills training and professional development workshops
  • Gain insight in the challenges foreign nationals face to (economically) integrate in South Africa
  • Live and work in Cape Town, arguably one of the most stunning cities in the world.
  • Enjoy exploring South Africa’s many highlights during your time off
5 MONTHS USD 3,517
6 MONTHS USD 4,085

See Detailed Rates


If you’re ready to apply for this internship, here’s what to do:


Fill in the application form (it will show in a new screen) which includes sharing your CV to us


We’ll set up a call with you to go through your application.


If we feel it’s a good match, we’ll set up a call between you and the supervisor for this internship.


If everyone’s happy, we’ll provisionally confirm your placement! We’ll then send you the invoice for the deposit, getting started with the booking process and all the info you need.


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 fill in the contact form below. We’ll be happy to assist!


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