Week 3: Where is the Time Going?

Another great week complete! I cannot believe I’ve been in Cape Town for three weeks, but I truly love Cape Town.  Each week, work poses new challenges, but new challenges make for fascinating blog posts =).  This week I began two new cases, and finally completed a previous one.

Earlier in the week our Director assigned me a case regarding a car accident between a third party and one of our clientswhose car was damaged.  After reviewing the case file, I decided to phone the other party’s insurance agent to discuss the process of repairing our client’s vehicle and the process for repayment.  However, the information given to our client was a fake insurance company and agent name.  To ensure no foul play, I phoned the third party and requested the insurance company’s and agent’s accurate information.  When I asked for the contact information, the man became very agitated, irate, and rather hostile, spewing insults about our client and the organization.  I was stunned, but remained calm.  Still, I am not sure why he felt the need to scream and use vulgarity, but nevertheless, we received the proper information and were able to get in contact with the correct insurance company, speak with the agent, and began preparing the proper documents for our client to receive compensation for the damage to his car.  Although I was frustrated by the man yelling at me, I realized that by keeping a clam demeanor, and not matching fire with fire, warranted me an upper hand in the conversation as I received the information I needed in order to complete our client’ s case quickly. 

When completing a client’s case, interns never expect a tangible item in return for their appeal, it’s understood that our clients are eternally grateful.  These men and women entrust their livelihoods to us, and it is satisfaction enough knowing that we helped in their process of finding refuge or asylum in South Africa.  However, late this week, I wrote an appeal for a client who was from Rwanda and had a rather complex and difficult story to explain in her appeal.  Then, she needed a particularly quick turnaround as she was late submitting her appeal to Home Affairs.  Nevertheless, I finished her appeal quickly, and she was able to turn it into Home Affairs the same day.  The next day she returned to the office, and when I saw her, I was rather nervous since most clients do not return that quickly unless there has been a mistake in their appeal or she received a rejection from Home affairs.  As she walked in she carried a large bag and asked that I come meet her; she handed me the bag and it was filled with chocolate candy bars and juice boxes.  She explained that she just wanted to say thank you as best she could because she was so appreciative of the work of PASSOP and for interns like myself, who write appeals.  I was so excited and happy; I was nearly speechless.  I was not expecting such a heartfelt gift, but it was such a great feeling and a moment I will always cherish.

Rewinding back to my first week at PASSOP, I received a case regarding the repayment plan for a vehicle, where our client owed another man.  Well, I am pleased to announce that after a month of offers, counter-offers, and conferences, we finally settled on a repayment plan for our client.  I never knew how demanding a seemingly simple repayment plan could be; but since neither party wanted to give into the other, trying to find common ground was difficult.  After weeks of deliberating, both parties finally reached a decision without involving the High Courts, which often felt like the only alternative.  It was an extremely rewarding accomplishment being able to draft, edit, and finalize a contract that favored our client. 

Finally, on a more adventurous note, each weekend, myself and a group of friends find a new Cape Town adventure, and this weekend we decided to hike Lions Head Mountain.  Lions Head is 2,195 feet above sea level and the peak shows the beautiful views of Cape Town and Table Bay on one side, and the Atlantic shoreline on the other.  Although some parts were extremely challenging and some parts literally included climbing rocks, this was a beautiful and breathtaking experience.

Lions Head