The Moment Everything Becomes Clear

Karolina and Adrian, both interns at the Legal department, and me.

After graduating last December, the moment many students feared had arrived. The structured, predictable path that University had provided me for six years had now come to an end, and it was the moment to decide what to do next.

I came across Civil Rights Defenders in a quite randomly way, when I was looking for information on human rights defenders’ (HRDs in the office jargon) protection programs. The Natalia Project, which is designed by Civil Rights Defenders to build a security network for human rights defenders, was ranked as a really efficient and responsive protection program. Later on, when asking about the organisation to some of my Swedish friends, they told me it was one of the better considered Swedish NGOs working for the protection of activists around the globe.

I had always known I wanted to work with human rights defenders and civil society in South America, so applying for an internship in the Latin American Department seemed like a good idea.

I can confirm that the quality of the work I have seen during the last 5 months in Civil Rights Defenders is admirable. The organisation combines persons with specific knowledge on human rights violations in targeted areas with very passionate people who contribute with the means that make the assistance of activists possible. The work of the Communication, Fundraising or Finance departments is as necessary as the people who working side by side with our regional partners.

In some other working environments, being an intern can have some negative connotations: interns do not get to do the most exciting tasks, their opinions and suggestions are not taken as seriously and they are most of the times so afraid to rise an inappropriate question or comment that they keep their ideas to themselves. In my opinion, it is quite unfair that I only get to say I have been an intern at the Latin America Department at Civil Rights Defenders, because I did not feel like one in that regard.

Latin American team in Stockholm

During the whole internship, I have felt just like another member of the team. I have participated in all sorts of meetings: from team meetings and civil society events to discussions with partners. I have always been introduced as a valuable member of the team, my ideas have been listened and discussed and I have had my questions answered with care and patience.

I have also had extensive discussions with my colleagues over topics that were not necessarily related to my work. But in Civil Rights Defenders, you are surrounded by extremely interesting people who have vast knowledge and strong opinions. It would be a waste to only talk about weather during lunch break, wouldn’t it?

Within the department, I have been able to suggest new projects, and I could conduct them in the way I thought it was best. I have helped extend the emergency fund in the Latin-American region, and I have assisted some of our partners on the field. I gained extensive knowledge on the political, cultural and social background in the region, and I learned about other organisations working in the same areas.

But most important, it has appeared clear to me that this is what I want to work on. Some months ago, I had a bunch of doubts regarding my professional career. Of course, the future is always uncertain, but now I am sure that I would like to continue working with human rights defenders in Latin America. Latin American team in Stockholm

I would, therefore, like to acknowledge Civil Rights Defenders for this amazing experience, and thank specifically Erik and Maria Pia for this moment, now that everything has become a little bit clearer.

/Marta Ribera Carbó