Project Description

Refugee Internship in Cape Town.

Although South Africa did not start recognizing refugees until 1993, it is now home to one of the highest populations of refugee and asylum seekers in the world. While many refugees travel to South Africa with the intention of drastically improving their lives, most find it difficult to find jobs, earn a sustainable living, and gain access to social services. Unlike many other African countries, South Africa does not have refugee camps. Refugees and asylum seekers live in urban areas and survive largely on their own. If they do need assistance, they are instructed to approach the local government structures. For this reason, a focus has been placed on professional social services to support this vulnerable population.

The VACorps internship program has a history of placing passionate individuals in the refugee services field in Cape Town. You will intern at a professional organization that is committed to improving the lives of refugees in South Africa (to understand how we locate your specific site, see how we find internships in South Africa for all program participants). Prospective candidates for our refugee internships should have a strong interest in social services, an understanding of the challenges that refugee and asylum-seekers face, and/or a background in human rights, development studies, international relations, or a related field.

The benefits of doing a refugee internship in South Africa:

  • Create an impact- While interning in refugee services, you will participate in the process of welcoming, integrating, and supporting refugees who seek asylum in South Africa.
  • Leave the classroom behind– During your internship, you will leave the classroom and directly interact with individuals who have been forced to seek asylum as a result of geopolitical events.
  • Live in the incredible city of Cape Town- An internship in Cape Town will provide you with the unique opportunity to live and travel in one of the most beautiful cities in the world! From exploring Table Mountain to witnessing incredible marine life of the Cape, your time in Cape Town will be an exciting one. Our weekly program activities will ensure that you make the most of your stay in our special city.
  • Gain valuable professional experience- After completing an internship in the refugee field in South Africa, you will gain invaluable international work experience in a demanding professional social service setting. It will also give you the chance to build your professional resume/CV.

If you are also interested in any of the following internship categories, we can potentially create an internship that will encompass multiple fields: South African human rights internships, Social work internships in South Africa and Counselling and Psychology internships in South Africa.

Refugee internships highlights from VACorps Alumni:

“I will always remember the days that I directly helped immigrants and refugees and one story really stands out. Before he arrived at the centre, “Shorty” from Ethiopia used live in the streets. I met him, listened to him and helped him with his refugee papers. He now has a decent job where he can earn a regular paycheck instead of living in the streets. It was a powerful experience to impact someone’s life like that.” — Joseph Asterios

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Meet past participants:

  • Joseph A. on internship in South AFrica

Joseph Aserios — Seattle, Washington USA (2017)

"I choose Cape Town as a place to do my internship because of the location. It was a diverse city that is so rich in culture. I came to Cape Town not knowing anyone but [...]

  • VACorps program testimonial of Julia Corey

Julia Corey — Fairhaven, Massachusetts USA (2017)

"I chose Cape Town to intern abroad because I wanted to gain international working and living experience, and I wanted to immerse myself in a culture that is very different from what I know. I [...]

Naomi Arthur – Eugene, Oregon USA (2016)

Naomi participated in a refugee assistance internship in Cape Town with VACorps in 2016. "My overall time as a VACorps intern will be an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my [...]

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