Projects Abroad PRO kick off South African human rights campaign with an appeal for more qualified legal volunteers in South Africa

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This month, Projects Abroad PRO – whose work to match qualified volunteers to relevant projects enables them to make a difference to some of the world’s poorest communities – are launching a campaign aimed at UK legal professionals. In a country where the abundance of natural beauty lies in stark contrast to living conditions for many, the campaign will highlight Projects Abroad PRO’s law and human rights work and encourage professionals to get involved.

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Every volunteer in Africa makes a huge difference to the lives of poorer people in the developing world, and we urge any professionals considering sharing their skills with us to get in touch.

The days of apartheid may be over, but South Africa still bears witness to many human rights violations and – as this week’s tweets by a pair of young models, one white, one black, demonstrate – regular outbursts of race-related anger.

In Cape Town, the Project Abroad PRO Human Rights Office (PAHRO) works at grassroots level, dealing with legal issues such as child trafficking, refugee rights and police accountability. With only two full-time lawyers supporting a huge caseload of 400, Legal Service Coordinator Sanjay Hora explained how qualified legal professionals looking to volunteer abroad help to provide vital services for the South Africa’s poorest citizens.

“At PAHRO we deal with all legal matters pertaining to the infringement of human rights and civil liberties,” he said. “For example, we help clients prepare for matters to do with the Labor Courts, the Equality Court and the Magistrates Courts, and we also represent clients at the Refugee Appeal Board if they are denied refugee status. We are delighted when qualified lawyers or caseworkers come to support us, especially if they come to us for longer periods of time. Once they understand our internal procedures, they can independently manage a caseload under our supervision. This takes a great deal pressure off us and for the time they are with us, they become an additional member of staff – and an invaluable help.”

A volunteer’s exact role would depend on their professional background and expertise but, as Projects Abroad PRO’s Director Scott McQuarrie explained, the current campaign highlights the effects of the shortage of qualified legal professionals in South Africa centres on the company’s mission to raise awareness of human rights issues and abuses, monitor the rule of law and human rights and influence and support policy makers and institutions. For example, volunteers have highlighted topics such as the xenophobic attacks in a Johannesburg township that left 62 people dead, constituting the worst violence in the country since the end of apartheid.

“Our work is split between the Legal Services and Social Justice departments,” said Scott. “Depending on a volunteer’s experience, they might be involved in prison conditions, election monitoring, children’s rights and the prevention of child abuse or women’s rights, which were highlighted recently in an Amnesty International report. Some cases are very intense and it can be hard for both volunteers and staff to hear clients’ horrifying stories. Shocking as it may be, we know that our volunteers see and feel the direct benefits that their involvement brings. Every volunteer in Africa makes a huge difference to the lives of poorer people in the developing world, and we urge any professionals considering sharing their skills with us to get in touch.”

About Projects Abroad PRO
Projects Abroad PRO is an arm of Projects Abroad designed to encourage graduates, professionals on a career break and retired seniors to take part in voluntary work abroad. We are looking for people with a skill or qualification who want to make a difference, using their knowledge to help some of the poorest communities in the world. Our strength is matching each volunteer with an in-country professional from their related industry.

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