Getting the most out of your volunteer project includes devoting some time to evaluating your experience. So upon your return home IVP will send you a workcamp evaluation form. Please fill this is and return it as soon as you can. This will help IVP to improve its services and provide feedback to our partner organisations. In addition, please send us your stories and photos, which we will include in our newsletter.
There are also many other opportunities to become further involved with IVP when you return. In fact IVP is run on a voluntary basis by people like you, who have been inspired by participating in workcamps. You might want to develop an Australian workcamp around an issue important to you or train to become a workcamp leader yourself. Other opportunities are available in a variety of areas, including co-ordination, administration, publicity, fund-raising, accounts, newsletters, Australian workcamps and web-site management. Experience is valued but not a requirement. So if you would like to contribute, please contact us and get involved!
After returning from their workcamp, many volunteers want to get active in their local branch. This can mean many things from editing a newsletter, to training campleaders, being member of the board or organising info-evenings. All the SCI branches are different and have their own focuses, but all of them are willing to receive volunteers to help with different tasks. You can maybe join the local group in your town or a working group gathered around a certain theme. Beside doing a valuable work for SCI you will also meet people with the same values and learn a lot about working in an NGO. You can find your local branch here.
Through your local branch you can also receive information about the trainings and seminars organised by SCI. They often cover important themes for SCI, such as human rights or conflict resolution, or they aim to teach new organisational skills for volunteers, such as project management or fundraising. These events are educational and informative, but in an informal way. The interaction between the participants and they way they learn from each other is an equally important aspect.
SCI also has several annual meetings, which can be organised by a working group, a seminar preparation team or are part of the constitutional obligations, like the annual meeting. In these different meetings the SCI activists have a chance to exchange their opinions and plan future activities. In the annual International Committee Meeting decisions covering the whole of SCI are discussed and voted for.
SCI runs also regular international projects, which are multilateral projects between many branches and partners. Often they are related to the workcamps, for example bringing an educational theme to a workcamp by a special messenger. For example look at the Youth Transcending New Frontiers website.
International working groups
SCI has several international working groups that focus on either a particular region or interest area, for example, MIDI (Mediterranean Working Group) or the Refugee Working Group. These working groups are made up of SCI branches, groups, partner organisations and interested individuals. They are recognised every year by the International Committee Meeting where their budgets and plans of action are approved.
The working groups are important for SCI as they bring people together to plan and develop their actions in a more focused way. Working groups are the specialists in their fields and have a number of different tasks. For example; communicating with new potential partners, organising seminars, overseeing the activity of branches, making decisions at the annual meeting and being the public face of SCI in that particular region or interest area.
These are the working groups currently active in SCI:
Abya Yala – Latin America working group
AWG – Africa Working Group
Midi – Mediterranean Working Group
Sava – South Eastern Europe Working Group
AIWG – Asia International Working Group
RWG – Refugee Working Group
EDWG – Environment and Development Working Group
YUWG – Youth and Unemployment Working Group
LTEG – Long-Term Exchange Working Group
WWG – Women’s Working Group
Medium and Long-term Volunteering
SCI’s Long Term Volunteering (LTV) programme gives the possibility to stay abroad from 3 to 12 months, working in a project that co-operates with the local SCI-branch or partner.
There are a large number of possibilities: working with disabled people, disadvantaged youth or ethnic minorities, in an ecological community, in a local SCI office, or an orphanage.
Long Term Volunteering is not only work, but also an experience of living abroad learning from the culture and the people, getting deeply involved with the project and its ideas.
The term LTV is used in SCI to refer to all the volunteers committed to a project for more than two months. The volunteer is provided with food, accommodation and some pocket money and is usually covered by a basic SCI insurance. Travel costs to the project are generally covered by the volunteer. There are no age limits to be an LTV. If you are interested in being an LTV please contact your local branch.
SCI has a long history of involving Medium Term Volunteers (from three to six months) and Long Term Volunteers (six months to two years) in projects run by SCI and partner organisations. Indeed many of the actions undertaken by SCI in the early part of its development were projects that lasted several months or even years.
In 1934, Pierre Ceresole, the founder of SCI, headed a team of international volunteers, who worked alongside local volunteers for several months in the rebuilding of an entire village following a devastating earthquake in Bihar, India. This eventually led to SCI being invited to a newly independent India in 1950 to help rebuild a new refugee township (for displaced people from the Punjab region of Pakistan) in Faridabad, outside New Delhi. The action continued for over two years. SCI also carried out similar work in Karachi, Pakistan at the same time.
During the Spanish Civil War, SCI organised a two year programme of evacuation for women, old people and children from the fighting zones as well as providing feeding programmes and social activities.
SCI organised a programme of medical and social work in a slum colony in Algiers, Algeria from 1949 to 1953.
In the middle Sixties IVS in Great Britain set up its programme of Long Term Volunteering in Southern Africa (Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and later Mozambique), Cameroon and with SCI projects in Southern Asia (Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka). VSI, the Irish branch and several other branches also recruited and trained people for this programme. The programme was organised by IVS, until the late 1980’s when it was taken over by a newly formed organisation, Skillshare Africa.
Many Asian MTV’s and LTV’s have taken part in medium and long term projects in Europe since the 1950’s, although many more Europeans were able to work in Africa and Asia. Some of the projects were long term projects undertaken by SCI in Europe and some were organised by partner organisations in Europe.
“Long term volunteering to me, means an active and positive way of life to keep the human spirit alive. As ordinary men and women we will then be capable of doing extraordinary things.” Ganesh Dorairaju, SCI Malaysia LTV in Europe
During the 1989 ‘Volunteering as a Way of Life’ seminar held in the Netherlands, SCI volunteers set up a Long Term Resource Centre to develop and support medium and long term volunteering within SCI. Since then the SCI has produced:
A handbook on medium and long term volunteering. This can be downloaded from www.sciint.org/publications.phtml
A regular vacancy list on medium and long term volunteering in many countries
A set of practical selection and placement procedures for medium and long term volunteering
Regular training courses, seminars and festivals on the theme of medium and long term volunteering
Several of the SCl lnternational Working Groups are keen to develop a programme for medium and long- term placements on a North/South basis. The programme is still at a very early stage and only a handful of volunteers, mostly from Europe, have been able to take part.
Volunteers wishing to participate in this programme usually have to pay their own travel cost from their home country to the local project. Food and accommodation is usually paid by the project, as well as in most cases, though not always, a small sum of pocket money.
One benefit of this programme is that there is more integration into the local community.
For more details of medium and longer term volunteering within SCI, contact your SCI branch.
The application procedure in principle is:
1. information of the available LTV projects is gathered every two months in the Vacancy List. This list can be ordered from the SCI office of your country.
2. when you have found an interesting place, fill in the LTV application form. It can be ordered from the branch as well.
3. when the branch has received your application form, they will call you for an interview. The aim of this interview is for the branch to get to know you better (and recommend you to the hosting project) and for you to get to know more about SCI and the LTVing. In some countries preparation information seminars are organised instead of interviews.
4. your application form and letter of recommendation from the organisation is sent to office of the country where the project you are interested is located. All communication goes between organisations, not between you and the hosting project.
5. the office in the hosting country passes your application to the project where you apply to and they take the decision whether to accept you or not. In some cases the project will contact you personally to learn more about you.
6. the office of the hosting country will contact the office of your home country to tell about the decision.
It is advisable that in as early stage of the process as possible you try to contact other volunteers who have been to the same project or same kind of project to find out more. There might be some reports from old volunteers available also.
When you are accepted:
1. you will receive an infosheet and travel directions to the project.
2. there is an inscription fee you have to pay to the sending organisation. The amount varies form country to country as well as when this fee is paid (sometimes when you send you application, sometimes only when you have been accepted)
3. it is up to you and the hosting project to agree when you will start in the project.
4. be aware that the SCI insurance has only a basic coverage and it is highly recommendable to take a private insurance
5. the sending organisation should point out a contact person for you who will stay in regular contact with you during your LTV
6. in the hosting project you should have a work support person who helps you with all things linked with your work
7. for social life and getting used to the new culture, a mentor should be appointed
8. when 1/3 of your project has passed, there should be a mid-evaluation to see how your project is going
9. after the project there should be a final evaluation with the hosting project
10. a written evaluation should be sent both to the sending and hosting organisation. The sending organisation should arrange a meeting with the returned volunteer to discuss the experience