Homepage > For my internship, I went to live among a Maasai tribe in Kenya

For my internship, I went to live among a Maasai tribe in Kenya

Roberta Rofman
Roberta Rofman studies at PSIA in the Master Human Rights and Humanitarian Action. She has many interests related to Human Rights, volunteers with Sciences Po Refugee Society and also with different projects in England related to homeless people. For her mandatory masters internship, she decided to go to Southern Kenya to live among a Maasai tribe, looking for ways to help them improve their living.

Roberta, tell us about your experience

As an Intern for the NGO InterActions & Solidarity (I&S), I was based in Southern Kenya, near the Tanzanian border among the Maasai community of Noomayianat. My original task was to evaluate the local projects that I&S helped to set up, seeing whether they have been successful and what improvements could be made. Such projects included the local health dispensary, a primary school and a tourist camp called Amboseli Eco Camp.

As time passed, I gained more responsibilities through the development of other projects. Along with another volunteer, we helped the local women selling their traditional Maasai jewellery, a source of income they very much relied upon. As they were not very successful with tourists and locals we moved the selling to an online platform. This allowed us to be contacted by jewellery sellers in Europe, thus increasing women’s profit. We also gave basic business classes to the women, including the importance of pricing policy, quality, marketing…

My biggest role, and probably most unexpected, was my work with the camp. It had not been very successful, so I designed an online marketing campain with the aim of improving the camps visibility. Due to the cheap prices and unique style of the rooms, the camp became very popular. I then worked on management of the camp, ensuring that customers were happy and helping the community to learn how to run the project effectively.

How did you get this internship ?

I knew I was interested in working in #Africa so I began looking for humanitarian and stumbled upon I&S. Their aim of creating sustainable projects that could be run by the local community without the help of outsiders really appealed to me because I think empowerment of disadvantaged people is crucial in their escape from poverty.  After talking to the president of the organisation, she was interested in me coming and I was interested in going. And it was that simple. I bought my flights, organised my visa and left in June.

What did you learn ?

This has been the best internship I could have asked for because I learnt so much. I was exposed to the realities of humanitarian work, and learned to work with older generations from a completely different culture to mine. I also realized that having a great idea is not always enough, as people in need might have motivation but will face obstacles, it is therefore important to tackle different methods in order to solve problems.

What’s next ?

This experience has been hugely valuable for teaching me how to work with disadvantaged communities. This internship has allowed me to develop personal and project management skills. I am still part of the organisation as I care a lot about the community I worked for and would like to see continued progress of the projects. However, I think for my next work experience, I would be interested in going down the route of working with refugees or people displaced due to conflict in some aspect.

Can Sciences Po Students get involved in your projects ?

It would be great to show support for our two big projects, that of Amboseli Eco Camp and the jewellery selling of the Maasai women. So if you could like or follow, that would be fantastic!

learn more

About Amboseli Eco Camp

About Maasai Jewellery

Crédit photo : Roberta with Massai Tribe ©Roberta

Last modified 2019-03-05
13.05.2019
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