Hey all! This week I will update you on my experiences as a Human Rights Intern with aditus foundation. As a lot of you may know, Rimaz and I applied for this human rights internship back in January. This is my journey and experience from the beginning till now.
In January aditus foundation posted the advert for this internship on their website and their social media pages. I was hesitant at first on whether I should apply. They were looking for someone who was committed to human rights and also a member of a marginalised community. I knew that I fulfilled all the requirements, but deep down I still thought, “I am a normal teenager with somewhat a normal life”. So because of that I felt I shouldn’t apply. However my friends encouraged me to apply since this was a human rights internship they thought – insisted – would be beneficial for my future. So exactly on the closing date I decided to apply by sending my CV and covering letter.
After some time, aditus’s Programmes Officer, Kasia De Wilde, called me to set up an interview. I went to the office and together with the Director, Neil Falzon, we discussed everything that the internship would consist of. It was really scary for me when they mentioned that one of our main tasks would be writing blog posts frequently. I told them that I am not that good in writing as I have dyslexia. They reassured me that they will help me improve my writing and they also told me that they will help me explore other blog options, aside from writing. They asked me about how I thought this internship would help for my future. I told them that I wish to become a youth social worker and to further my studies in gender studies and the LGBTIQ+ community. I also mentioned that I am very passionate about activism regarding human rights in general.
My impression was that the interview went great and I just waited patiently to receive their response. A week passed and I remember I was at the LGBTIQ+ youth group when Kasia called to tell me that I got accepted and that she would like me to start the following week. I was in complete shock, I did not believe her straight away…I asked her again and she reassured me that it was true! The human rights internship was about to begin!
I remember going in for the first day, at noon. I was really scared and excited at the same time. I began the day by having a small discussion with Kasia. She told me that she was going to be our mentor, and that if we needed anything she would be able to help us. We read the contract together before I signed it. She also gave me a copy of the office regulations. I introduced myself to everyone and I was ready to start working! Kasia suggested that first I should familiarise myself with past and ongoing projects.
What I liked from the start of this internship is the sense of community that there was in the office. Everyone helped each other and they all worked together as a team. But there was also a sense of family. They spoke about what they had done during the weekend. I felt safe hearing them talking about all of this. I felt that I belonged with them and that I could be open with them. I also felt that if I would have asked for help, which I did several times, they would be willing to help me without hesitation.
After a week or two I met my partner Rimaz, the other Human Rights Intern. She is the most outgoing person I have ever worked with! She is always ready to help and I believe that throughout this internship we have worked very well together. We do have our differences and sometimes we do not agree on things, but we both learned how to go about our differences and work better together.
This internship has offered me so much! It taught me so much! Firstly and most obviously, I learned a lot about human rights. We take our human rights for granted because most of us are privileged enough to be born with rights given to us. Most of the time we don’t have our right taken away from us. But throughout this internship I saw the harsh realities of a lot of people. It was a real shock to hear about what our clients go through. I was also scared that listening to their stories would affect me badly, since I am a very sensitive person. I was also scared of how I was going to help with cases. Thankfully, I learned how to overcome this and in the end I was able to help a lot with cases.
When I was younger I always thought that these stories were just out of books and never thought or believed that these were actually the lives of real people. Before this internship, I never thought how precious and important human rights were. Even though I am part of the LGBTIQ+ community, where for years we experienced violations of our rights, I still didn’t think of how many more communities were being affected by this. I met people, attended various meetings, seminars and protests where I learned more about the importance of human rights and how we can be the voice to people who have their human rights taken away from them.
I also never thought how bad the situation is in Malta. Don’t get me wrong: compared to other countries we are in a good place, but I don’t know we choose to be content with being in this ‘good place’. Yes, the LGBTIQ+ community enjoys most of its rights, but what about migrant and refugee rights? What about reproductive rights, like abortion? Thankfully, during this internship I was able to experience up close the work of aditus foundation in these fields, and so much more.
This internship also gave the opportunity to learn how to work in an office environment. One of my main tasks was to take care of the office main email address. I remember at the beginning I panicked because I didn’t know to whom I should forward emails and how to handle info and appointment requests. We also had to learn how to work with the organisation’s client database. We also learned how to work under pressure.
As the months began to pass, more work had to be done. We also did some tasks that were out of my comfort zone. For example, I had to learn how to write professional emails and how to talk over the phone. I used to be really uncomfortable doing this as I was really shy, but I believe I improved over time. I also remember the first meeting I attended on my own! It was so scary and I felt that I was going to mess up everything! But everything turned out fine and I managed to take all the notes!
Then, to make things more exciting, a pandemic happened in the middle of the internship! We all had to learn to adapt to working from home. Obviously our work didn’t stop. We used to have a Zoom meeting at least once a week. I will never forget that, during this time, there was the case where the Government decided to leave over hundreds of migrants out at sea for weeks. So our workload increased and got more challenging. We still managed to work amazingly as a group. For example, we strengthened the #DontLetThemDrown campaign during the pandemic.
Everything that I learned throughout this internship will help me in the future. I learned how to prioritise and manage my time and work accordingly. I learned how to go about my dyslexia and use it as an advantage. I also discovered a lot of things about myself, such as that I am a very holistic and creative person. I got the chance to learn about topics that never crossed my mind before, for example the topic of statelessness. I wouldn’t trade all the things I learned for anything!
This human rights internship was and still is an amazing experience! I am really heartbroken that this experience is coming to an end in two months’ time! But I am thankful for it and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to do an internship with aditus foundation.
I hope you found this update interesting next week with another blog post.
#KeepingUpWithTheInterns is part of our project Marginalised Persons as Human Rights Volunteers. If you want to follow Matthew and Rimaz as they navigate their way through Malta’s human rights landscape, subscribe to our News & Updates or follow them on our social media pages!
This project has been funded through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector on behalf of Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sports and Voluntary Organisations within the Ministry for Education and Employment. This project/publication reflects the views only of the author, and the MEDE and the MCVS cannot be held responsible for the content or any use which may be made of the information contained therein.