Internship and volunteerism
Defence for Children International was established in Sierra Leone by a group of young professionals most of whom were teachers, lawyers and students. The organisation started with volunteers and has developed over the years through the work of volunteers. Hence voluntarism has become a strong culture and inevitable practice of the organisation. DCI-SL provides opportunity for university students and unemplyed graduates from both local and international institutions to provide voluntary service for the organisation and in turn gain knowledge and skills that can build their work experience.
How to apply for internship/voluntary service
Once you have read about DCI-SL and understood what the organisation focuses on, you can simply submit your letter of application expressing your intention to do internship with the organisation. You can either submit the letter directly or through your institution. You should address the letter to the Executive Director Defence for Children International, 4 Old railway Line Tengbeh Town Freetown Sierra Leone. You should attach your Corriculum Vitae to the letter. You can submit your letter physically to the afore mentined address or email it to Internship application is open throughout the year.
Processing of application and feedback
Within a week of submission of your application, you will receive a letter of response from the organisation about your application, which will indicate your acceptance or not and the key conditions that govern internship. The organisation will then assign someone to you that will guide you through out the process and support you until you arrive at the organisation.
Work environment
DCI-SL provides a decent work environment that ensures equality and equity in all respects particularly from gender and human rights perspective. Both interns and regular staff enjoy equal access to services and equipment of the organisation. Interns carrying out research are usually supported by the organisation interms of helping them to recruit their research subjects/respondents and aiding their access to them within the operational areas/districts of the organisation.

Testimonies of former interns

Elika Dadsetan 
“Interning with DCI is what opened the door for me to work with other organizations, such as World Bank, World Vision, Save the Children, and others. However, it also allowed me the independence to find my passion, and create programs I was most passionate about - all the while, fully supporting my desire to learn more and give back. The staff is unbelievably committed, and are great resources.

Period of internship - was meant to be 10 weeks, but I decided to continue to 20 weeks and do my capstone project based on Diversion and its impacts on children and youth in SL. My Masters in Conflict Resolution and Human Rights Advocacy (Peace and Justice) was through University of San Diego, Kroc School of Peace Studies.

Samah Mcgona New York University School of Law
From May to August 2016, I had the opportunity to intern in the Western Area and Headquarter offices of Defence for Children International in Freetown, Sierra Leone (DCI-SL). The internship experience was very valuable and significantly shaped how I view advocacy and human rights work. As a law student, it was interesting to work with an organization that focuses both on providing direct services to juveniles and impacting national policy. My time at DCI showed me the importance of collaborative advocacy between social workers, lawyers, policy makers, community organizers, and other service providers in bringing about substantive change. During the first weeks of my internship, I was given an overview of the organization’s child justice program by visiting police stations, courts, and detention facilities with various staff members. During these visits, I saw how important DCI-SL’s monitoring is to the juvenile justice system in Sierra Leone. By speaking with different actors in the juvenile justice system, from detained youth to police investigators, I realized that DCI-SL’s work not only ensures that everything is done with the best interest of children in mind, but also ensures that those in power are held accountable for their actions.  For the remainder of my internship, I chose to split my time between monitoring court sessions, working with detained youth, entering data into a newly created case management system, and helping create a policy and action plan for a Ministry of Foreign Affairs Netherlands (MSF) through Defence for Children/ECPAT Netherlands funded project.

During my time at DCI-SL, it was important to be familiar with both domestic and international law since I chose to work with the organization’s child justice project. While monitoring court or speaking to detained youth, I would often identify general practices that were not condemned by domestic law and and turn to international law as a means to advocate for change. The staff members at DCI-SL were always accommodating and gave me the opportunity to make the internship experience my own by asking about my interests and providing me with resources to interact with change makers and conduct research. Beyond work, my coworkers provided me with much appreciated guidance about life in Freetown and I even received some impromptu Krio lessons. My experience with DCI-SL truly highlighted the importance of community engagement in advocating for change and holding those in power accountable to the people. By providing direct services to youth in need and advocating for progressive policy change, DCI-SL is actively reshaping the juvenile justice system in Sierra Leone. I feel lucky to have contributed to the organization’s efforts.

Samah Mcgona
New York University School of Law
J.D. Candidate | Class of 2018
(804) 274-0939





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