Background: Bachelor of Arts (2009), Simon Fraser University; Juris Doctor (2012), University of Calgary
IYR Term: August 2016
Going into law school, I knew I wanted to help people. I have always had a passion for women's rights and in particular, domestic violence issues. After 4 years of working in private practice as an estate planning and corporate lawyer, I was eager to explore my passion again and decided to spend my holiday time volunteering abroad with IYR in Arusha. I went in with no expectations, but came back with my heart full and my knowledge enriched.
In just three weeks, I was able to immerse myself into Tanzanian culture. After a crash course in Tanzanian law, I quickly found myself presenting at seminars and classes on human rights, property rights, marriage laws, inheritance laws and domestic violence; meeting with and advising local women at our legal aid clinics with the help of our translators, local lawyers and staff; being interviewed by the local radio station on domestic violence related issues; and conducting research on pressing human rights issues, such as female genital mutilation. The stories women shared with me about their personal experiences fighting for equality and justice were truly inspiring. I never imagined that I could accomplish and be involved in so much in just a few short weeks. The IYR team was incredibly supportive and helpful, and the programs they have in place are well run but still offer freedom and flexibility.
This experience has made me a more compassionate, patient and practical lawyer.
Background: Graduated with an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
After school ended, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to come out to Arusha. I wanted to put into practice what I learned in school about creating and sustaining a small business, but for a cause that I believed in, and in a new and interesting environment. My first project has been to create a business plan and financial model for the Kuku Project in order to make sure that the project is sustainable, and creates the desired outcomes for the women. In the past 2 weeks, I have received a crash course on poultry. Now words like Layers, Newcastle, and brooding are all a part of my everyday vocabulary!
One of the things that has surprised me the most about living in Arusha, considering the population of over 1 million people, is how small the city seems. We run into people we know everywhere, and I’ve only been here 2 weeks! Some of these run-in’s have been extremely propitious, for example, just yesterday, sitting with our friends, happened to be a Director of an International Rural Poultry center. She was wonderful, because she made time in her schedule to squeeze in a quick meeting to give some well needed advice.
Aside from work, there has been a lot of fun things going on also. Toi (the other intern) and I have explored the city, and are planning trips, where we will hopefully be able to practice some of the Swahili we have been learning! We have met so many people and have really just fallen in love with the city. I can’t wait to see what next week has in store, as our chickens grow and Toi and I will spend more time in the village.
Background: 1st Year Law at NYU
I can’t believe I’ve been in Arusha for over a month already! The time here is really flying. I’d just completed my first year at NYU School of Law before leaving New York for Arusha. Though this is my fifth time travelling to Africa, this is my first time in Tanzania and Arusha is a place like none other.
While here, I am doing legal research on property rights, widow’s rights, and women’s rights more generally. Our goal is to prepare a curriculum for our Community Outreach Director, Eliasante, to use as a guide to help address the concerns of the widows. In addition, we are hoping to do more outreach, and having a reference to use as he explains women’s rights in the community will prove useful. At this point in my research, I am hoping to find more information on customary practices of the Maasai regarding probate and inheritance distribution to widows.
Though the research has been interesting, I’ve also enjoyed learning about chickens through the Kuku project that Bess mentioned. BUT, I must say that the highlight of my trip so far has been spending my birthday abroad with many of the amazing people that I’ve met. Jana & Friends (as I like to call them) prepared a lovely (vegan!) lunch, complete with a delicious (non-vegan!) birthday cake and icing made from scratch. Spoiled much? A great big thank you to my Arusha family!
That said, I still have a whole other month here and I am really looking forward to all the twists and turns Arusha brings along the way!Mtaona na baadaye!
Madellena (Maddy) Conte Thornton
Background: Dartmouth College, Class of 2017
For four weeks I will be working with Inherit Your Rights, an NGO which seeks to educate, empower, and represent individuals concerning inheritance and property rights. I am currently working on micro-finance projects such as homemade greeting cards, which allow women to earn supplemental income to support their families, and the Kioga Kuku Project, which trains women in the Kioga community to raise chickens (in Swahili, Kuku). These projects allow women in the local communities to be more independent and self-sustaining. I'm also writing radio script about female genital mutilation, which will be translated into Swahili and local tribal languages and then broadcasted on a local network. We got a chance to visit local tribes and schools to educate communities about the abuse and ways to promote women, children, land, property, and inheritance rights.
My time in Arusha has been incredibly eye-opening and thought-provoking. I have gained a whole new perspective and have learned WAY more from being here than any knowledge or skills I could possibly share. A highlight of my time here has been the meaningful conversation with my host family and other volunteers. Despite radically different experiences and backgrounds, we are all human beings with similar values who can connect and work together to ensure that human rights are respected in Tanzania and elsewhere worldwide.
Back home in America I can always somewhat predict what the following day will bring. We get so caught up in our daily routine that we forget about life’s surprises. Everyday in Tanzania brings unexpected experiences that allow me to learn and grow as a person, citizen and thinker. I cannot wait for whatbrings.
Emma Van Dalst
Background: I just graduated from high school, after this summer I’m going to study Law at HU (Utrecht), the Netherlands.
IYR: 6 weeks (end of June until begin of August)
The summer after graduation I had a lot of time off. I wanted to spend my summer doing something that mattered and was beneficial rather than ‘wasting my time’ doing nothing home.
While I am writing this, it is my last day in Arusha. It is hard to imagine that I have already been here for six weeks. Time flies when you are having fun as they say. I have worked on the marriage and divorce training programs, including handouts and radio scripts. It was really interesting to find out how the law in Tanzania ‘works’.The law and culture are completely different than what I am accustomed to in my own country. There were moments that I found really interesting, such as how differently Tanzanians think. I also faced a few difficult moments such as aligning my thoughts with the people here and trying to understand how Tanzanians sometimes get stuck in their own culture. For example, the circumcising of (especially) women breaks my heart. I loved how the Inherit Your Rights trainings empowered and educated different groups of women, widows and also some mixed groups of men and women.
I was able to spend my time working on the Kuku-project with Maddy and Lasse. Inherit Your Rights has established this project to try to help local widows in small village of Kioga to raise money to buy their own chickens, set up their own chicken bandas and continue with a sustainable small-scale enterprise. We really hope that this will empower them and help them to be more economically independent so that it will be easier for them to enforce their rights. A few weeks ago we also made a fundraising video with the widows, within a couple of weeks it will be on the internet, so that we can fundraise the rest of the money we need to finally finish this successful project!
I have really enjoyed my time in Arusha. All the personal experiences, new culture, and awesome people I have met will be something I carry with me for the rest of my life.
Background : 2nd year of Law at Aix-Marseille University, France
IYR: May-June 2014
I just spent 2 months working with Inherit Your Rights and time has flown by unbelievably fast .. I guess that's what happens when you are enjoying your time that much !
During those two months, we have mostly done research on different women's rights issues such as property rights, land rights, inheritance rights or domestic violence in order to put together training documents that we would then use when meeting groups of women in villages surrounding Arusha or radio scripts that would then be broadcasted on local radios. It was interesting to see that Tanzanian laws are actually very fair to women, the problem being that they are not enforced.. To make that happen, we were aiming at raising awareness on women's rights, by training them and encouraging them to take legal action in case of abuse..
That was a very inspiring and fulfilling challenge !! This work made me made me realize that human rights law is what I want to work in. This is a big relief as I now know the direction that I'm headed !
Aside from being a great work experience, my time in Tanzania has mostly been an amazing human experience ! I met some really cool people at Inherit Your Rights and in my host family (that was absolutely adorable) with whom I had the best time : we went hiking every weekend and discovered some beautiful landscapes, we went out around Arusha which was soo much fun, and the highlight of my trip was definitely when we went on safari in those incredibly splendid parcs in the northern region of Arusha..
But now it's time to go back home ! Although I'm really sad that I have to leave already, I'm so grateful for my time here and I'm coming back with my head filled with so many fun and beautiful memories !!
Lasse Lømo Ellingsen
Background: BA in History, 1 year Diploma in Political Science and about to commence an MA in History at University of Oslo,
IYR: June-July 2014
I am a 24 year old student from Oslo, Norway. Back there I study history and political science and I finished my BA in history last year and a one year course in political science this year. I have worked a lot with different political ideologies and political extremism and the role they play in international conflicts, and I have therefore also studied many situations where basic human rights have been violated or completely ignored. I think this is one of the main reasons why my interest in human rights issues has grown over the years.
I will start on my MA in history this autumn and I therefore wanted to do something completely different from what I normally do before I went back to university. I decided to volunteer for Inherit Your Rights in Arusha because I wanted to work with human rights issues at a local level, get a new cultural experience, discover a part of Africa and also meet new interesting people and have a good time. Now I am able to do all those things at once for 6 weeks!
Inherit Your Rights works primarily to help local widows gain their property rights. I’m mostly working on the Kuku(chicken) project IYR has established to try to help local widows in the small village of Kioga to raise money to buy their own chickens, set up their own chicken bandas and continue with a sustainable small-scale enterprise. I hope this will empower them and help them to be more economically independent so that it will be easier for them to enforce their rights. I’m also working on making radio scripts with information about human rights and Tanzanian law that will be translated into Swahili and maasai before being broadcast on local radio stations around Arusha.
In addition to all the personal experiences I am sure I will be left with after my stay in Arusha I really hope my work in IYR will have helped to improve the situation for the local widows and help them build a brighter future, I feel so fortunate to be able to work on such a meaningful task while having such a good time in East-Africa.
Background: Masters of Private Law from Sorbonne Law School, Paris and LL.M. in International Trade and Investment Law from Amsterdam Law School.
I have wanted to volunteer in a human’s rights organization for a while, and I finally had the opportunity to do so after graduating and having worked for a year in a large international law firm in Paris (Linklaters LLP). I looked for a good NGO to work with, and was particularly interested in women’s rights issues. I hit upon IYR and found the different projects very interesting so decided to apply for volunteering with them and I was not disappointed.
I have worked on legal research on different problematic that Tanzanian women have to face in their everyday life. I have learnt to understand the Tanzanian legal system which is interesting in its complexity, and learning about such a different legal system teaches you to think differently and keep an open mind. I drafted and helped draft trainings for women on different topics - inheritance rights, property rights, land rights etc. .We also started a new project on Wills to educate man on writing testaments to protect their family. IYR is growing bigger as well and approaching new questions, such as children’s rights in particular. I am glad to have had the chance to participate in the first children’s trainings of IYR, going to schools and educating students on their rights was an amazing experience, given the extremely positive response of the children and the hope they give for the future of Tanzania.
The experience in Arusha is amplified by the beauty of Tanzania, and the surroundings of the city are astounding. Nature here is wild and quiet - preserved. Arusha itself has impressed me in many ways. I did not have any expectations before coming here, but it has surpassed all that I could have hoped for. It is a very lively city, and the people are diverse, interesting and welcoming- extremely welcoming. I could definitely see myself coming back to live here for a while. I met great people at work and outside, seen breathtaking landscapes, and discovered wonderful different cultures (learnt a bit of Swahili!). Tanzania is colorful, vivid, and welcoming - the perfect ingredients for an excellent experience.
IYR is doing a great work helping out the community, and the different projects (legal, micro-finance, education) work together in harmony for very complete work to support the neediest, and I am very thankful to be part of it.
Samantha (Sam) Elliott
Background: Rising 2L at Cornell Law School
Our Team >
Inherit Your Rights has had volunteers from all around the world. They come from various backgrounds take away different experiences from it.
Want an idea of what it is like volunteering at IYR? Check out one of our previous Volunteer's blog
Here's a list of previous volunteers who've worked with us in Arusha!
Want to volunteer with Inherit Your Rights? Click here!