Evans Campbell completed an internship at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Geneva.
IOM offers stipends to most of their interns, except when the internship is part of a university agreement, or when the intern is sponsored by other schemes or organizations.
In choosing to leave Kenya to pursue an internship in Geneva, the most convincing factor was definitely that the internship was paid. I was already going to spend a lot of my own money to get to Switzerland and would never have afforded life there without a form of income.
My internship was with the Media & Communications department in IOM. Life in Geneva was pretty expensive even on an internship salary. I spent 50% of what I earned on rent alone and about 20% on living expenses like food and transport. That doesn’t really leave you with much to pursue personal interests. I was surprised that the organisation did not see fit to provide housing, even if shared, for its interns.
I am no longer in Geneva now. After a rescinding of my consultancy contract offer on the suspicious basis of what my supervisor referred to as “personal incompatibilities” I had no choice but to return home, Nairobi, as earlier planned. Since then, life has been better to me.
I have heard of and read a lot of sad stories about great people that struggle because of unpaid internships. They are highly capable and motivated to work, but cannot do so because the cost to themselves is financially unbearable.
It is unfair for organisations that occupy the realm of protecting and championing human rights and freedoms to leave some of their most crucial members of staff uncared for. Interns do a lot of work and deserve pay commensurate to that.