My name is Natasha, and I am a first year law student at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, Canada. I have been dedicated to the study and practice of international development since going to a UN camp in the summer of 2007, which left me with warm and fuzzy dreams of becoming a lawyer "saving the world". Since then, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelors of Arts with a major in political science.
Rwanda changed my life. I have been fortunate enough to go to more countries in 23 years than most do in a lifetime, and every single one has challenged my existing understandings, made me appreciate something in myself, and motivated me to continue exploring the world to further my learning through travel and error.
Rwanda completely overhauled my expectations of the human spirit. A country that only twenty years ago was ravaged by a short but devastating genocide is today one of the most stable economies in Africa, and is currently the only country in the world to boast having more women than men in Parliament. Community development is achieved through a variety of state funded projects, including a huge number of citizen-developed cooperatives. One day a month, the entire country shuts down for participation in umuganda, a morning dedicated to community service. Rwanda showed me that there truly is strength in numbers, and that it is possible to overcome even the most daunting of obstacles.
This summer, I get to return to Rwanda as a legal intern at the Ministry of Justice in Kigali from May to August. I get the chance to work in a legal environment, to learn from fellow lawyers, and to represent my school and country abroad.
Rwandan Ministry of Justice (MINIJUST)
Osgoode International Legal Partnership has worked in partnership with MINIJUST for 2 years. The mission of MINIJUST is to "promote and facilitate the rule of law, put in place a legal framework for good governance and ensuring effective delivery of legal services to the public as well as promoting reconciliation among Rwandans."
I will be tasked with the revision and edition of draft laws, as well as researching Canadian, American and international legal equivalents to make suggestions to the Attorney General.
I will also be asked to undertake independent research into the many services available to Rwandan citizens through the Ministry of Justice and the numerous NGOs operating in Kigali. I will deliver materials compiling these resources at the end of my placement for translation by the Ministry into the country's three main languages, and eventual distribution in print and online (if the Ministry so chooses). The idea is to create the beginnings of a manual that can be used by both Rwandan citizens and legal-focused NGOs.
Osgoode's International Legal Partnership
This phenomenal opportunity that I have this summer was made possible by Osgoode International Legal Partnership (ILP). ILP is a student-directed, non-profit, non-partisan organization at Osgoode Hall Law School. ILP gives students the chance to gain experience in public interest law in an environment that pushes students towards Bay Street jobs.
With the guidance of faculty, alumni and the legal community, ILP strives to create opportunities for students to obtain a practical global legal education in a manner that is mutually beneficial for students and partner organizations working in the Global South.
How You Can Help
This project is largely self-funded, and the position is unpaid. I am 100% committed to going to work for MINIJUST this summer in the stead of trying to save up some money by working at a law firm in Canada. In fact, I have already bought my flights and put down the deposit on a place in Kigali! However, I need your help to finance the project.
Based on my previous experience in Rwanda and further research, this is a breakdown of the costs for the summer:
Flight and other travel expenses: $2000
Medications (malaria pills): $50
ILP fellows this year are receiving some support from Osgoode and York University, and I have some student loans and savings left to bolster this nest egg. This is not enough, however, and any help that you can give me in furthering my pursuit in a career dedicated to promoting international human rights is greatly appreciated.
This experience will add an invaluable experiential element to my legal education and personal growth. I would love to share the experience with you, and to keep my supporters in the loop, so I plan on keeping a blog as the project wears on: http://learningthroughtravelanderror.wordpress.com/. I encourage you to take a look whenever you have the time!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this page, and for any help you can give me. Even you cannot spare the money, please share this link with your friends and family. Every little bit counts!
If you would like to get in contact with me, please feel free to email me at [email redacted]ku.ca.
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