From Awareness to Practice: Volunteering for a Sustainable Future

EVS project in the EU (Finland, Iceland, Italy, Poland and Spain), Latin America (Brazil and Argentina), Asia (Vietnam), and Africa (Kenya and Mozambique).

11 long-term volunteer placements from April to December 2014.

The 8-month multilateral  EVS project “From Awareness to Practice: Volunteering for a Sustainable Future”, offered 11 young people from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America the chance to explore a wide range of issues related to sustainable development (SD) whilst volunteering in a country and culture other than their own. The involved host organisations addressed at least one the four pillars of SD (environment, society, economy and culture): Mozambique – environment and socio-economic sustainability, Kenya, Argentina and Brazil – community development by tackling poverty, marginalization and exclusion, Spain, Finland and Iceland – supporting disadvantaged children and youth, Italy – disability, and Vietnam and Poland – sustainable in its entirety. Intercultural learning formed the foundation of the project and ensured deeper understanding and respect for minorities and the marginalised, thereby linking the cultural dimension of the project to the environment, economic and social dimensions, all of which make up the very fabric of SD. This project enabled the exploration of sustainable choices and lifestyles by connecting local action to global reflection (in accordance with UNESCO’s concept of Education for Sustainable Development).

Action 3.2 – “Citizenship for change: Empowering volunteer activism”

The Citizenship for Change: Empowering volunteer activism was a global awareness raising project encouraging young citizen action for social change. This project has sought to deepen, widen and sustain youth participation in socio-political processes of democratic society addressing social inclusion and equality of opportunity. Impactful change requires that we organise ourselves and take action! Campaigns in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America have through the course of 2014 raised awareness of volunteering and of some of the most pressing social concerns of our times! The Volunteer Activist website was created as a result of the project, in order to offer the seventeen campaigns a common platform to share their work and inspire other volunteers, youth workers and civil society organisations to develop and implement awareness raising campaigns in their host and home countries.


International Training Seminar in Madrid, Spain, April 2014

Motivated by the desire to raise awareness about volunteering and bring about change in their local environments and communities, 33 young people from 17 countries came together at an international training seminar in April 2014 within the scope of the project “Citizenship for Change: Empowering Volunteer Activism”.

The five-day training seminar was filled with inspiring talks on activism and campaigning, on the Occupy London movement, the social market system – the Mercado Social, and a visit to Asociación Garaldea – an alternative association for people at risk of exclusion. Discussions, exchange of ideas and good practices vis-à-vis campaigning and activism served to prepare the ground for the campaigns in 17 countries in Europe,  Asia, Latin America and Africa. The training seminar came to a close with the presentation of the ideas and plans for the 17 campaigns worldwide.

To those interested in campaigning and activism, we have uploaded some of the reference documents created on the basis of this project:

Quick Guide to Campaigning – Tips to keep in mind, when planning a campaign
Final Activity Report Madrid – Results from the International Training in Madrid
Final Activity Report Peru – Critical examination of the 17 campaigns

Evaluation Conference in Lima, Peru, October 2014Page-3-Image-6

The project came to an official close with an Evaluation Conference in Lima, Peru, in October 2014. In-depth presentations of and discussions on the 17 campaigns demonstrated the diverse range of campaign issues identified by partners as priority for their local networks, cities and countries. A number of the organisations were implementing campaigns for the very first time, and many campaigns networked successfully with local NGOs, created new partnerships, strengthened cooperation with existing partners and reached out to large numbers of people worldwide; youth, local and international volunteers, and the general public. The campaigns were carried out in public spaces through marches, bike rallies, films shows or at music festivals, political events, on the social media, and in the form of workshops and numerous small events in: Austria, Bolivia, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, India, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.

The project was to serve as an impetus and an invitation to volunteering NGOs worldwide to take their work a step further by entering the realm of political activism. In this we believe that we have been successful: a number of the participating NGOs have described plans for annual campaigns or continued campaigning work on the prioritized themes. The Volunteer Activist website will remain active even as this project comes to a close, presenting information on the new and continued campaigning work in the international volunteering sector.

InterACTive Citizenship

EVS project in the EU (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Spain, Sweden and the UK), Switzerland, Latin America (Bolivia, Columbia, and Peru), Asia (India, Nepal, and Vietnam), and Africa (Ghana and Kenya).
11 long-term volunteer placements from September 2013 to June 2014.

The reciprocal multilateral EVS project, “InterACTive Citizenship” took up the motto of the 2013 “European Year of Citizens” by mobilising and coordinating young people’s active engagement in citizenship activities around the globe. Through volunteering, an essential element in active citizenship, the project aimed at developing in young citizens a commitment to society and to political life in society.

The 11 volunteers – 6 from the EU, 5 from Asia, Africa and Latin America – in this 9-month EVS project lived in another country, were exposed to its cultural diversity, and also actively engaged in the most diverse range of civil society projects addressing community development (Freshwinds in the UK), human rights, refugees & the homeless (Associazione “Volontarius Onlus” in Italy, The Salvation Army in Iceland), the disabled (Fundación Betesda in Spain, Association of People with Disability in India), health and education (Action Health Incorporated in Nigeria), street children (Alalay Eguino in Bolivia), the elderly (Panti Wredha Rindang Asih I Nursing home in Indonesia, Rifugio Re Carlo Alberto in Italy), poverty alleviation, empowerment and education (Mengo Youth Development Link in Uganda, We Serve Charitable Trust in India).

The project aimed thus at solidarity and trust, while opening up possibilities of learning and exchange on active citizenship and the responsibilities that go with it.

Youth & Intergenerational Solidarity

EVS projects in the EU (Austria, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK), Latin America (Colombia, Honduras and Mexico), Asia (India and Indonesia), and Africa (Morocco, Kenya, South Africa), as well as the Russian Federation.

16 long-term volunteer placements from September 2012 to June 2013.

The multilateral EVS project “Youth and Intergenerational Solidarity” took up the priorities of the 2012 European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, promoting intergenerational support and solidarity. Ageing populations present considerable challenges to existing infrastructure, welfare, health and pension financing, which in turn puts a strain on relationships between generations. Simultaneously, age coupled with aspects like social class, gender, disabilities, etc. compounds the problems of the elderly, creating an environment of inequality within which they -sometimes barely- survive. Enhancing the quality of life of the older generation, the volunteers in this project have been working to create a holistic society that is just and equal, and sustainable across board for all generations.

This reciprocal 9-month EVS project enabled 16 young people to participate in intergenerational projects or those primarily addressing elders from disadvantaged backgrounds on four continents. Accordingly, projects include an intergenerational community development centre (UK), homes for disabled adults and elders (Austria, Spain), homes for elders (Italy, Iceland, India, Honduras, Kenya), a nursing home for the elderly (Indonesia), homes for disabled elders (Poland, South Africa), veteran’s hospital (Russia), and support centres for the elderly (Mexico, Colombia, Morocco).

The project aimed at developing a “society for all ages” and enabled the mobility and participation of youth by placing them in intergenerational projects or those adressing the elderly from disadvantaged backgrounds or elders with disabilities. It promoted intercultural learning and dialogue, challenging discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion, and thereby also strengthening mutual understanding and respect between youth around the world. It initiated a process of self-reflection to counter preconceived notions, perceptions and attitudes of volunteers and local communities not only with respect to the older generation but also socio-cultural practices in the host country, promoting in this way social inclusion and cultural diversity.

The volunteers in this project have therefore served as bridges between generations – raising awareness, stimulating debate, fighting exclusion and having a real impact on the lives of people.