Reports from the Field

Human Rights and Legal Aid Placement, Tanzania

Oscar-Bang-Human Rights & Legal Aid Internship in Tanzania


“Today is my 14th day in Arusha, Tanzania. Having spent two weeks here, I think I am able to give a fair report of how work and life outside of the office is here. I am doing the-program, an internship where I am volunteering at Arusha Women Legal Aid and Human Rights Organisation (AWLAHURIO).

Before coming here my expectations were to experience a different culture and to meet new friends while doing something good for people in need. I think it is fair to say that those expectations has been fulfilled so far. Even though the faiths of (especially) local women that you come in contact with can be overwhelming and the slow pace here combined with the general disorganization can be frustrating, you get so much life experience from just spending time here when coming from more developed parts of the world.

AWLAHURIO is a small, non-profit, NGO, focused on helping women in need of legal aid. The typical client is a local woman that recently got divorced or became a widow whereupon her male relatives claimed her assets including home, land etc, since women are usually regarded as not able to own their property according to the culture. However, this approach is not legitimate according to the law and this is where AWLAHURIO comes in. There is usually 2-3 women coming in to the office each day where we, free-of-charge, help them with their legal issues. In most cases where the women have some sort of legal documentation of their property we are usually successful. Sometimes when they do not, the situation gets more complicated and the matter goes to court. Last week when we went to court, the judge did not show up. Struggles like this, which apparently happens a lot, makes the work further difficult. In summary, AWLAHURIO is doing an important job and really helps a lot of local women in desperate need.

A normal day here starts at Tanzanite, the house where I and among 30 other volunteers lives. Innocent, one of the very friendly people working at Tanzanite, will cook you breakfast. Then at circa 9.30 am, after 20-minutes-walk or catching a moto-taxi, I get to the office. We are currently 5 people working in this tiny office, where Martha is the coordinator. Being a law student, normally focused on solving strictly legal issues in school, work here is quite different. Firstly, since our current biggest issue is to get a bigger office so that more women can be helped, a central part of the job is to fundraise money in different creative ways. Other tasks can be to file papers, organize client-registers etc. In general the work at the office is quite “free” which is why it is important that you take your own initiatives instead of waiting to get handled assignments. For example, we are now planning a work shop to educate women in human rights and a open BBQ to fundraise money for our next office. If you come up with ideas like these work will be much more rewarding and fun. Note that most of our clients only speak Swahili which unfortunately makes it difficult to have direct-contact. We usually go to lunch at 12.30 to 2.30, and then home again at around 5.30 pm. Then there is a lot of people to hang out with and dinner will be served at 7 pm.

It has been two times so far, where there was little to do for me at the office, I was given the opportunity to help Charles (my contact person at Global Nomadic who has his own law-firm) with some cases where the work was more “technical legal”. This was a great experience and I hope do it again.

Outside of the office there is a lot of tours, hikes and adventures that you can attend and the guys at Tanzanite are always helpful with organizing and dealing with taxi-drivers etc. If you want to go to safari, longer trips or just take a day off to visit African Court on Human Rights like we did the other day, Martha or the work at the office will not stop you. Tanzania offers some amazing nature and Arusha has a good night-life and is a interesting place just to walk in the streets to experience the hectic everyday-life.

If you come here with the right attitude and the right expectations you will learn a lot and have a great time.

Oscar Bang, July 2018″


Human Rights & Legal Aid Internship in Tanzania

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Oscar Bang