Alianza por la Solidaridad, GVC Italia, HBAid and Volonteurope have been working together in a consortium since 2015, providing Technical Assistance to organisations which would like to become certified sending organisations within the context of the EU Aid Volunteers programme. As part of delivering technical assistance, the consortium has also been working to establish their organisations as Focal Points in their respective European countries (Italy, Hungary, Spain, UK), as well as in conjunction with organisations receiving technical assistance in Romania and Malta.
The idea of Focal Points is to act both as centres of knowledge about the programme and as centres for EU Aid Volunteers-based dissemination activities, in order to increase knowledge about the initiative and the opportunities available for prospective sending organisations.
Volonteurope members Chance for Life and Imago Mundi have both received Technical Assistance, and as part of the continuation of the project, together have elected to make Romania a Focal Point. Thus, the EU Aid Volunteers Info Day on Wednesday 5 July 2017 was an important step in the promotion of the programme project in Romania, and was a very lively and successful event – which you can read more about here.
On Thursday 13 July 2017 together with SOS Malta we had the pleasure of organising a Maltese EU Aid Volunteers Info Day. Taking place in the premises of the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector in Valetta, we were joined by many interested Maltese organisations.
Piotr Sadowski, Sara Alves of GVC and I arrived at the venue in the early hours of the morning, after taking a boat and climbing the stairs through the old part of Valetta. We joined our partners from SOS Malta and were astonished when our first Maltese participants arrived at the venue before the registration started, promising indicative of the enthusiastic and interesting discussions to come. SOS Malta’s Claudia Taylor-East opened proceedings with a welcome speech that highlighted SOS Malta’s extensive experience in providing humanitarian aid, and also their interest in the opportunities involved in the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. Then we kicked off with the EUAV personal bingo to warm up (despite the outside temperature climbing to 40 degrees). Once we got to know more about each other and after the first BINGO! we continued with the presentation of the initiative delivered by the DG ECHO representative Svetlozara Kabaktchieva. We discussed the journey to and through deployment – for both volunteers, and the organisations which are sending and hosting. This prompted questions and exchange of experience between Maltese organisations new to the initiative, and SOS Malta and consortium partners already involved in the programme.
We also heard directly from the field, with the testimony of Lucas Rey, an EU Aid Volunteer deployed in Jordan. Lucas shared with us his experiences supporting an organisation in Jordan in the field of Finance and Administration. His engaging testimony echoed in the coffee break’s reflections and interactions among the participants, and was a very tangible way of demonstrating the end result of the programme.
After, together with Sara Alves from GVC, we got down to the thematic sessions on the certification process and practical recommendations for the organisations wishing to get involved in sending EU Aid Volunteers. Sarah Straface from SOS Malta also offered advice about her organisation’s experiences of tackling the certification process.
We closed with reactions and questions from the attendees on the implications of becoming involved, particularly for sending organisations, and the opportunities and challenges Maltese organisations may encounter through the EU Aid Volunteers programme. We were happy to see that the event created a space for dialogue between organisations, NGDOs platform SKOP, Maltese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Civil Protection and more, and will serve as a basis for the future activities to promote the EUAV Initiative and its opportunities on this beautiful island.
Both the events in Bucharest and Malta and the eagerness of the participants have proven the importance of the discussions on the role active citizenship can play in addressing global challenges. Furthermore, they have shown how programmes like EU Aid Volunteers can provide opportunities and resources for both volunteers and organisations to encourage values of solidarity and channel them into concrete possibilities and actions.
Stay tuned, as in the upcoming posts we will share updates from other EU Aid Volunteers Info sessions that occurred in June and July in Spain (Valencia, Granada, Huelva, Gran Canaria and Tenerife) and Italy (Padova and Bologna). Additionally, if you are an organisation interested in sending EU Aid Volunteers from one of the mentioned countries and would like to learn more about the initiative and certification mechanism, check our Technical Assistance website in one of the languages and contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org!
Kasia Tusiewicz, Alianza por la Solidaridad