Julia Roettinger reflects on her two months as an intern with Natural Justice’s Cape Town Hub and the Climate Change Program.
Natural Justice certainly does not make you feel like a typical intern. Instead you gain valuable hands-on experience as well as an insight in the office work of a small NGO, led by a dedicated team, in the centre of Cape Town.
My two-month internship was everything I was hoping for and more. As an international Master’s student at UCT I was assisting Dr Cath Traynor with the fairly new Climate Change Program at Natural Justice, which aims to empower indigenous peoples through rights-based adaptation approaches together with communities. My tasks included contributing to a policy/academic paper on climate change impacts and the right to food in Southern Africa with a particular focus on indigenous peoples which will probably be published soon. In addition to that I was given the opportunity to drive up to Kuboes, a small place close to the Namibian border inhabited by the Nama people, where we facilitated a work shop on climate change for the Kuboes youth group. This turned out to be an amazing and also eye-opening experience. We heard about climate change impacts from first hand and I realized how urgent the problem actually is for those vulnerable groups. No matter how much the “international community” and the national government tries to mitigate we, and especially remote and rural communities, have to find ways to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. So what can be done? And how can Natural Justice assist? I realized how important Natural Justice’s work is.
Just when I thought my internship could not get more interesting Cath asked me to come along with her to Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape to be part of a peer-to-peer learning exchange with the local community and “our” Kuboes youth group. We stayed at a fully self-sustainable ecolodge where we were guests of the NGOs Indigo Development & Change and Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) who made it an inspiring and very informative trip. I could literally see the excitement in the young adults’ eyes. They could not wait to get home and engage with their elders’ knowledge in order to find adaptation solutions. I believe that it is about those kind of experiences that passionate people like Cath work and live for.
They say timing is everything and perhaps my timing for this internship was just right but I truly believe that Natural Justice has so much to offer for interns throughout the year. I have had an incredible time learning about South Africa, its indigenous peoples and climate change and I can now say that it was one of the most exciting and interesting internships I have done so far.