Nina, the French Civic Service volunteer at Zavod Voluntariat, shares with you the story of the year she spent in the organization. Read her blog post and follow her journey from wondering what she is even supposed to be doing to (successfully) submitting the EU Aid Volunteers application form.
Hey, hey, it’s me again & it’s time to finally tell you what I do at Voluntariat. 🙂
Before going to that amazing training in Paris I knew that I was going to work on the EU Aid Volunteers initiative and my final goal was to obtain a certificate. Fair enough. But what is the point of the initiative, how do we get the certificate and what can we do with it?
You can of course find information on all this on the European Commission’s webpage, but these can often be quite confusing, and so I’m here to explain it to you in simple words. What the EU wishes to do with this initiative is to send volunteers abroad to third countries (so not member states and not candidate countries) to help with humanitarian projects. As the safety of the volunteers is crucial, this initiative is not meant to send people abroad immediately after humanitarian disasters. Instead, the volunteers will help local communities build capacities that would help them in the future. For example, the pilot project EUROSHA was carried out in Kenya where the volunteers helped the local community create maps of their region.
Who can become a volunteer? Pretty much anyone, as long as you’re 18 or older. All the volunteers will receive common training by the EU, so you don’t have to worry about not being qualified enough. Plus, the teams are divided into junior and senior volunteers, so you can be sure there will always be someone with more experience working by your side. Volunteers will be from all over Europe and will be chosen by organisations like Zavod Voluntariat.
So what exactly do I do? As I already mentioned, it is very important for the EU that these projects fulfil some standards. However, not just anyone can play the part of a sending or hosting organisation – organisations need to get certified by the EU first, which is a way of making sure that they have experience, know what they’re doing and will take good care of their volunteers. If you want to get the certificate, you need to submit a self-assessment form in which organisations provide evidence to the EU, basically showing that they are capable of carrying out all the responsibilities of a hosting or sending organisation (Voluntariat and all other EU organisations can only apply to be sending organisations). This self-assessment form is quite long and detailed, and it is my job to submit it by the end of the year.
What was the French Civic Service I mentioned last time? So, the French have this really cool system which was introduced instead of the obligatory military service, and it allows them to volunteer for up to 12 months and get paid for it! What the ingenious La Guilde did was ask the French government if they would be willing to accept people from abroad to this programme, they said yes, and here we are – 8 people hired as French Civic Service volunteers working abroad and getting paid by the French government. Not bad, huh?
And why are there 9 of us? Simple! To help each other. 🙂 We are all part of the Volunteering in Humanitarian Aid consortium, working on the same self-assessment form and when one of us gets stuck on something, there are always at least 8 people willing to and capable of helping you out.
Stay tuned and next time you can read about another cool part of this project – the exchanges! My next destination -> London! 🙂