I've made it to Cape Town and the city is beautiful! I have a lovely view of the mountains from my kitchen and a beautiful garden outside my bedroom window. I spent the weekend before my internship walking around the southern suburbs of Cape Town; familiarizing myself with the area and the transportation system--the yellow trains of Cape Town go right by my apartment. CSVR's Cape Town office is located in the Observatory, about 2 miles away from Rondebosch, which is where I'm staying. The weather was so amazing this week (considering winter is coming in two weeks) that I stopped taking the bus to work after the first day and have been walking to and from work for the most part.
I started my internship on Tuesday and was able to sit down with CSVR staff members in order to discuss the various projects the organization is working on currently. These include projects focused on both local and international issues of violence and transitional justice. One of CSVR's local efforts is the Urban Violence Project. The goal of the project is to assess the effectiveness of government poverty relief programs at curbing urban violence. Currently, the South African government has initiated a Community Work Program, providing part time jobs for those residing in the most marginalized neighborhoods in the country. Studies have shown that the program has helped reduce and increase community safety in some neighborhoods. Through the Urban Violence Project, CSVR hopes to understand how the government can most effectively address the issue of urban violence through its Community Work Program.
In order for me to better understand the nature of crime and violence in Cape Town, my superviosor invited me to attend a breakfast briefing hosted by PARTNER and the Department of Community Safety on Thursday. PARTNER is a non-profit organization that seeks to promote greater health and safety in South Africa by fostering partnerships between the government and the different NGOs in the country. The presentation mainly focused on some ways in which NGOs and the government can work together to tackle the various safety issues in South Africa. For example, by dividing the roles between the two entities with the government focusing on strengthening the criminal justice system and the appropriate NGOs working together to build community participation in saftey initiatives. The briefing was a great learning experience, especially since I'm limited in my knowledge of South African politics, and hopefully I will get a chance to attend similar events in the future.