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Rik Posthuma, 19 jaar, was sinds maart een vrijwilliger bij Projects Abroad. Hij had zich in totaal voor 3 maanden bij ons aangesloten en heeft daarin deelgenomen aan twee projecten, het Human Rights project en het surf project in Kaapstad, Zuid-Afrika. In beide projecten heeft Rik zich met zijn inzet en betrokkenheid erg positief onderscheiden.
Als werknemer bij PAHRO (Projects Abroad Human Rights Office) assisteerde Rik twee advocaten in het behandelen van een verscheidenheid aan zaken met betrekking tot mensenrechten. Hij heeft geholpen zaken op te stellen, onderzoek gedaan naar Zuid-Afrikaans en Vluchtelingen Recht en regelmatig contact gehad met cliënten. Deze cliënten komen naar PAHRO omdat ze zelf geen middelen hebben om bepaalde zaken aan te kaarten, en de advocaten en vrijwilligers helpen bij het opstellen en aanvechten van zaken met betrekking tot onder andere vluchtelingenrecht, huiselijk geweld of verkrachting. Daarnaast biedt PAHRO een ‘social justice’ zijde, die vrijwilligers de mogelijkheid geeft workshops te organiseren in een jeugdgevangenis en in townships, het parlement bij te wonen en een rechtsproces na te bootsen met lokale jongeren.
Op het gebied van ‘social justice’ heeft Rik zich intensief bezig gehouden met Bonnytoun, een jeugdgevangenis met 120 jongeren van 12-17, die in afwachting zijn van een proces of veroordeeld zijn voor een misdaad. Hier heeft hij een workshop georganiseerd over xenofobie, en door middel van het interactief betrekken van de jongeren een goede boodschap over kunnen dragen. PAHRO doet wekelijkse bezoeken aan Bonnytoun en de andere projecten en vrijwilligers krijgen de mogelijkheid om aan alle projecten deel te nemen.
Het surfproject betrekt kinderen uit de townships in een initiatief om ze na schooltijd met surflessen van de straat te houden en ze naast een gezonde portie lichaamsbeweging de noodzaak van teamwork, regels en discipline bij te brengen. Als vrijwilliger fungeerde Rik als rolmodel voor deze kinderen en heeft hij zich met veel passie ingezet om ze niet alleen voor de surfsport te enthousiasmeren, maar ook met meer energie en motivatie naar school te laten gaan. Dankzij een sponsorloop in Apeldoorn heeft hij voor vier kinderen een surfboard kunnen kopen, een lokale school van nieuw sportmateriaal kunnen voorzien en een transportbus van de surfschool kunnen opknappen.
Vrijwilligers als Rik kunnen een groot verschil maken in een korte tijd en wij zijn dankbaar voor zijn ambitie en betrokkenheid in beide projecten. Op de surfschool heeft hij dagelijks een glimlach op de gezichten van de kinderen kunnen toveren en een geweldige portie enthousiasme over kunnen brengen. Daarnaast heeft hij zich op PAHRO hard ingezet om de strijd voor de mensenrechten in Zuid-Afrika voort te zetten en daarmee een leerzame en praktische ervaring opgedaan in de wereld van het recht.
This time for Africa...
I arrived in Cape Town on a Saturday morning, after a 12-hour flight from Heathrow, on which the man next to me assured me I was travelling to the "best country in the world." I had signed up for the Human Rights project, in Rondesbosch, and had learnt I was going to live with the Isaccs family in Fairways for my month in Cape Town. As I travelled from the airport to meet my host family, I caught my first sight of the townships and a city enriched in its own unique socio-political history, which I was delighted to finally have the opportunity to experience.
Upon arriving at the house, I was greeted by Elaine (host mother), and her daughter Chrissy, granddaughter Adrihan and son Andre when I arrived at the house and was delighted they invited me out with them to a local Church fair event. I was interested to see how important family and community seemed to be (compared to the UK), and spoke to lots of people at the relaxed event about what I should see, and experience, whilst in Cape Town. Meanwhile, after I watched my host mum win the local 'Glamorous Granny' competition, I met my new housemates (from Europe and Australia), and slept well, especially considering how cold it was at night!
The next morning, we went to Simon's Town and walked to Boulder's Beach to see the penguins, and to make the most of a gloriously, sunny day. Fortunately, I met a few girls from the Human Rights' Office and was able to bombard them with questions I had about the work I would be undertaking. Following my induction on the following Monday, I experienced my first day at work on the Tuesday and was delighted to see the diverse nature of the work I would be able to do.
Human Rights Project
I combined social justice work in Bonnytoun, which is a juvenile institution unit for men under 18 who were either sentenced, or awaiting trial with casework involving refugees, domestic cases, and a fascinating case, which combined everything I could have hoped for from a legal viewpoint.
In Bonnytoun, I worked alongside 3 girls from the office, and conducted interactive workshops on key issues for the young men: communication and listening; role models and respect; and relationships and women. We used a combination of interactive icebreaker style games, and smaller group discussions to get to know the young men, and to build a relationship with them.
It was amazing to see how engaging the young men were, the ideas they had and to see an underlying sense of ambition to move away from crime and towards better things with their lives. Unfortunately, they spoke frankly about gang life within the townships, and how they felt it was impossible to move away from crime due to concerns about perceived disrespect and disloyalty, which would have extreme consequences.
In the first week we played a game where the young men had to say 3 statements, 2 true and 1 false, and I admit I was worried when one person said: "I like crime, I like drugs, I like soccer." After nervously glancing at the other volunteers, we asked whether crime was the lie, to which he calmly responded: "I don't like soccer." However, we were all very disappointed we only had 3 sessions with the young men as we built a good rapport with them, culminating in giving them certificates in the final week.
Further to Bonnytoun... I did a wide range of legal casework whilst in Cape Town including refugee related work. Interestingly, the relevant Government agencies were very difficult to contact, and work was made more difficult when some clients didn't answer their phones. However, I was presented with a fascinating case in my penultimate week, which concerned a man who has the victim of an allegedly deliberate vicious dog attack. I conducted legal research into the civil side of the matter (into strict liability in South African law), the criminal side of the matter and the Human Rights nature of the case (especially the Right to Dignity). My highlight of my month in Cape Town was going to court with the client to advise and support him with his criminal matter which quickly turned into heated negotiations outside the courtroom, in which I was told, "you're not even a South African lawyer", however the result was what the client wanted, a full trial, after he resisted the opportunity to take a payment to settle the dispute.
Overall, the project was interesting and a very rewarding experience. The staff members in the office were friendly and supportive, and I had the opportunity to do as much work as I wanted to. I am going to keep in email contact with my client and am considering working in similar areas of law or politics in the future.
Seeing Cape Town
The main attraction to coming to Cape Town was not only the opportunity of working in such interesting areas of law, but the chance to live in, and experience Cape Town. My host family was so friendly and I miss them greatly even after just a week away from them. After work most days I either had dinner out with other volunteers, or met them for drinks later in the evening (and visits to the Springbok bar). Although we were warned of the dangers of going out at night, the nightlife was enjoyable and we stayed together in groups and ordered taxis when we needed to go home. Eating out allowed me to eat springbok, bison and crocodile and the food was good value, and very enjoyable, especially a rich chocolate mousse I had at Cubanas.
As for seeing tourist sights, I visited Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope on a sunny afternoon and also climbed Table Mountain. The views from these 3 places were incredible and one could look out across both the Indian, and Atlantic Ocean and appreciate why these are some of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Despite it being winter in July, 3 weeks were very sunny in the day with only limited rain in my final week. Another important part of the experience was the people I had the pleasure of meeting, who came from all over Europe, Australia, America and Canada who were friendly and equally enthusiastic about their projects and life in Cape Town. I have already made plans to meet some friends I made, and feel my experience was so amazing because of the people I had the pleasure of living, working and socialising with.
Overall, the project was engaging and challenging, and the people I lived with and worked with were friendly and interesting. I loved living in Cape Town and gaining a first hand insight into a country in social, and political transition and hope to visit again in the future!
Michael Pinder, UK. (Cape Town July 2011)
On Tues 30th Sept we had the (until very recently) Executive Director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, Mr Ian Crawford provide a talk for all the business and law volunteers in Shanghai.
The purpose of Ian’s role and in turn the British Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai is to support member companies and individuals working in Shanghai and the East China region as well as British commerce in general. The Chamber provides a forum through which members and guests can widen their contacts in China and tackle the many issues facing foreign companies operating in China. This then makes Mr Crawford an ideal speaker for gaining insights into how things work in China and what, things as business/law practitioners in the country, we need to be aware of.
We gathered in an old French colonial building, about 12 of us in total. Ian sat down with the 11 volunteers and began to talk of his experiences here and introduce the volunteers to the fundamentals of doing business in China from a law perspective. He covered the major topics such as how traditional culture affects general business practices here and even how the completely different political system might affect legal matters. Mr Crawford also added his own tips for dealing with these cultural idiosyncrasies.
Once the lecture came to a close, there was the opportunity for the law and business volunteers to ask their own questions. Many were intrigued by the subject matter and wanted to follow up in more detail what had been mentioned. Others wanted to clarify from their own experiences here why certain things happened and what cultural issues might have been at play.
We thank Mr Crawford for his time and providing such a useful talk.
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