Shoshannah, Criminilogy, Afghanistan, Mines Action Canada, Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization ALSO, Kabul, Support Officer
Since the commencement of 2021, I have participated in an unprecedented international internship offered by the University of Ottawa with Mines Action Canada. Due to the distance-based nature of international field placements amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I was afforded the opportunity to engage with Mines Action Canada’s partner association, Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization (ALSO), stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, to promote disarmament and advocate for the rights of explosive weapon victims in a land that faces hazardous conflict and ongoing political unrest.
Throughout my internship with ALSO, the majority of my projects and assignments have consisted of finding appropriate donors/sponsors for funding in Afghanistan. In addition, drafting funding proposals with colleagues at ALSO that effectively and persuasively articulate the urgency for support in Kabul, by applying values of international humanitarian law and foreign policy, has been a central task for the latter half of my internship. Given the economic crisis faced in Afghanistan during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding donors that supported ALSO’s mission was vital to sustaining both the organization and the merits of explosive ordnance victim support, who face intersectional levels of (dis)ability and gendered oppression.
However, due to the severe political unrest and ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, ALSO and its colleagues often face threats to security by radical political groups. Indeed, ALSO’s peaceful advocacy to dismantle indiscriminate weapon legitimacy and to provide aid for victims of explosive weapons is often deemed as a risk to the stability of power by conflict oriented political assemblies in Afghanistan. As a result, ALSO is at times forced to temporarily halt operations or restation entirely. During periods of inactivity with ALSO, I was given unique assignments by Mines Action Canada (MAC) which would have otherwise not been encountered as a student intern. While working with MAC directly, I partook in viewing the diplomatic EWIPA conference with GENEVA alongside colleagues at MAC. Therein, I gained practice in the methods and operations of international humanitarian law diplomacy and shared relevant information with ALSO once communication was restored. Through this unique experience, I was able to obtain knowledge and skills in areas outside of my original responsibilities. Not only did this engagement exceed my expectations as a student intern, but it furthered my interests towards pursuing careers in international law and diplomacy post-graduation.
Overall, although students interning at a distance are unable to participate in fieldwork physically at their host country, we are still afforded the opportunity of partaking in an internship that offers extraordinary applied involvement in studies of passion. Certainly, in a world that is becoming increasingly dependent on technology for communication, business, politics, school, and daily life, I believe that interning at a distance provides uOttawa students with practical experience that beneficially prepares young people for an ever changing economy.