A Look Back after Five Years

It has been five years since our first CIDA Internship in Africa.  Erin, Arun, Julia and Amanda spent 6 months at the University of Pretoria in South Africa examining Land Reform in South Africa.

Erin O'Brien (UNB) returned to South Africa to head the team of interns.  Erin and Julia Bailey (McGill) examined pre and post-transfer support issues under the redistribution "pillar" of the Land Reform Program.  This project focused on identifying key issues to be addressed under CLaRA so that that appropriate pre- and post-transfer support mechanisms to ensure success for beneficiary communities.

Amanda Walker (Saskatchewan) and Arun Verma (McMaster) reviewed Land Reform from an Agricultural Business perspective. Amanda focused on developing an appropriate and affordable monitoring and evaluation system as an integral component of an adaptable environmental assessment and resource management approach.  Arun focused on developing comprehensive business plans for sustainable economic activities that include oyster mushroom production, commercialization of Mopani worm products, and small scale beekeeping. He examined how to integrate and coordinate relevant issues such as access to finance, training, skills development, and the roles of government and the private sector in the business plans.

This is what they are saying five years later:

Erin O'Brien

Erin O'Brien 2006-2007 CIDA IYIPSince moving permanently to South Africa in January 2008, I have worked as an indipendent consultant in the field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), monitoring and evaluation, and land/agricultural policy research. 

My internships particularly helped me gain experience in cultural adaptation, giving me a good basis for my new career.  There's a different set of priorities in rural Africa.  It's not about timelines - instead you have to let people tell you about their experience, listening carefully and then incorporate that into the planning and medication.  When I began my MPhil degree specializing in ADR with the CPS I didn't intend on ending up in Africa.  Now I know this is where I want to be.

Arun Varma:

Arun VarmaWell, I am living in Singapore. Currently I work in marketing for RIM managing our consumer strategy & carrier relationships for Asia Pacific.

The YIP internship provided me the experience and training to tackle different challenges as I entered the work force. Leaving university, I knew I wanted to help where I could as well as learn more about what I wanted to do.  The CIDA internship helped me do that by giving me prospective and life changing experiences.  As for my current job,  the internship prepared me for the seemingly constant travel and the abiity to adapt to new environments.

I think this program is the best choice for people after they finish school.

Julia Bailey

I am currently pursuing a PhD degree in socio-cultural Anthropology. I work as a research for a group research project that explores pastoral decision making strategies under conditions of drought, poverty and globalization in Kenya.  My research specifically explores the social implications of changing land-use and rights for pastoralists. I will primarily be focusing on women's experiences, by exploring changes to household dynamics and structures in a community in Southern Kenya. Starting this May I will be in southern Kenya for one to two years of fieldwork.

I would love to hear what the other CIDA interns are working on!!!

How exciting to hear that Arun is in Singapore and Erin is SA STILL!


Amanda Walker

Amanda, we would love to hear from you!!!