[:en]Readers of the newsletter will have seen that GVC and Alianza por la Solidaridad have recently begun deploying volunteers to third countries as part of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. However, the initiative is not only about deploying volunteers – the core activities of our Technical Assistance consortium concern providing assistance and training to organisations that want to gain EU Aid Volunteers certification in order to be able to deploy volunteers themselves. The consortium – which also includes Hungarian Baptist Aid and Volonteurope along with GVC and Alianza por la Solidaridad – combines expertise on volunteer management, international cooperation, humanitarian assistance, and work to support the potential volunteer sending organisation through the certification process.
The Technical Assistance process has thus far comprised many different steps: e-learning training on humanitarian principles and value of volunteering which had a high participation rate; survey for analysis and selection of suitable organisation profiles that can pass to the next phase. After organisations with suitable profiles were selected, they were the invited to take part in a number of webinars, which covered topics such as: , safety and security; volunteer management and gender; organisational self-assessment and evaluation on relevant policy, and finally the technical visits. As part of these Technical Assistance visits, the consortium team has been meeting the 16 organisations selected through the analysis survey to answer their questions, assuage their doubts, and above all assess the organisations’ current policies and documentation in line with the standards required by EACEA – so that they can become the sending organisations of the future.
My first Technical Assistance visit was to CESVOT, the Tuscan service centre for volunteering, with Rosalind Duignan-Pearson (you can read more about that visit here), then I travelled to Zagreb with Zsuzsanna Baczkó from HBAid to meet Croatian Baptist Aid. The city welcomed us with springy days and strawberry flavours – and Croatian Baptist Aid provided us with local cakes and a lot of enthusiasm to illustrate the different activities they have been implementing for several years in the Balkans. Croatian Baptism Aid was started inside the local Baptist church in 1978, and since then they have worked to help people who have had to leave their houses and countries, particularly during the Balkans conflicts. More recently they have been heavily involved in the helping during the refugee crisis.
The nationalities of those needing help may frequently change but Croatian Baptist Aid works to guarantee a dignified life to whoever arrives, either crossing through or staying in the Croatian territory. The work of Croatian Baptist Aid is also possible thanks to the active engagement of local, European and extra-European volunteers, 150 of them having spent a few weeks or even some months actively supporting the staff providing food and non-food items inside the refugee camps.
Croatian Baptist Aid would like to continue its activities helping refugees, work on their organisational structure and in turn evaluate the new possibilities available with the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. The structure of each Technical Assistance visit is dictated by the needs of the organisation visited, with the aims of explaining the programme further, addressing their questions and evaluating the concrete feasibility of their being certified. With Croatian Baptist Aid we decided to focus more on their practices which represented good guidelines for enhancing and strengthening its current activities. At this stage, Croatian Baptist Aid are still in the process of formalising their core documents, and are currently enhancing the ones they do have in order to match the certification requirements for EU Aid Volunteers.
After two intensive days of meeting, we left Croatian Baptist Aid’s team with a workable programme of small actions and also a big project of future volunteer deployment in the humanitarian sector in near extra-EU countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
Sara Alves, GVC[:]