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).

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.

EYV 2011 Volunteering Matters

In the framework of the EYV 2011, Reports by 16 volunteers

EVS project in EU (Austria, Iceland, Spain, Sweden and Turkey ), African (Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania), Asian (India, Philippines, Vietnam) and  Latin American (Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador,, Mexico) countries.

16 long-term volunteer placements from April to October 2011.

EYV 2011 – Volunteering Matters, on the occasion of the European Year of Volunteering 2011, aimed to take stock, raise awareness and promote the benefits of volunteering programs and practices in the participating EU and partner countries for young people and for society as a whole. By contributing to the activities to mark the EYV 2011 and the IYV+10, this project was  a unique opportunity for the participating organizations  and volunteers to promote their contributions to social and human development at local, national and international levels and to make volunteering a worldwide-recognized and beneficial practice.  The volunteers were based at the national offices of national and international voluntary service organisations. Besides participating in their daily activities and learning about how voluntary service is conducted in that particular society and cultural context, they were exposed to the work and experience of local organizations hosting international volunteers and carry out research and interviews with volunteers and hosts and carried out surveys about history, recognition and impact of volunteering in the respective host country. The dissemination of the surveys and other project results serve to further promote voluntary activities and active citizenship at national level in the participating EU and Partner Countries as well as at European and international level.

We invite you to read the reports of the 16 volunteers that describe and analyse the issues revolving around volunteering and its impact on volunteers and local communities in their respective host countries:

16 Action Research Reports made by the EVS volunteers during EYV 2011

Young Volunteers Contributing to Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion

EVS project in EU ( Austria, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Spain ) , African (Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda), Asian (India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines ) and  Latin American (Colombia, Honduras, Mexico) countries.

20 long-term volunteer placements from August 2010 to May 2011

This reciprocal volunteer exchange project, which is dedicated to the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion 2010, engages 12 young people from 10 EU countries in voluntary service projects dealing with poverty alleviation and inclusion in 4 African, 4 Asian and 3 Latin American countries as well as 9 volunteers from partner countries in similar projects in 8 European countries. The volunteers work and live  in a variety of  local host organisations such as shelters for street children, orphanages, micro-credit associations, soup kitchens, vocational training centres working with vulnerable groups, disabled care centres as well as migrant institutions, providing access to basic services as well as participating in advocacy activities of organisations and networks involved in combating poverty and social exclusion. By participating in this reciprocal EVS project, the volunteers will get a better understanding of cultural values and social practices in other countries which will have a  long-term impact on their personal development. The host communities will benefit from the time, energy and practical ideas brought by the volunteers, as well as their personal skills and a different cultural perspective.

Project Documentation

As part of their final report, the volunteers filmed part of their experience abroad. Below you can see nine examples of those short films. Enjoy!

Cultural Diversity, Indigenous people and Social Inclusion

EVS project in EU (Austria, Belgium, Italy, Finland, Spain) and Latin American Countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay)

15 long-term volunteer placements from January to July 2010

The project aimed at actively promoting volunteer engagement in cultural, social and non formal learning activities targeting vulnerable groups in the participating countries. The volunteers supported host organizations working with children and young people with less opportunities / in need. The participation of international volunteers was an added value for the daily life of young people and staff in the local host organizations. The project fostered mutual understanding of young people from different cultural, social and religious background as well as intercultural awareness and dialogue.

Project Documentation

Youth and the Environment

EVS project in EU and Asia

17 long-term volunteer placements from September 2008 to June 2009

The objective of this project was to make a worthwhile contribution to environmental efforts in the respective host communities and to foster environmental awareness of young people in different EU and Asian countries. Both the host organisations as well as the EVS volunteers, benefited from the intercultural exchange as well as possibility to exchange opinions and share experiences regarding environment policies and regulations, pollution prevention and control, biodiversity protection, climate change, sustainable production and consumption, capacity construction, model projects, environmental technology and environmental industries.

Project Documentation

Youth and Children’s Rights

EVS project in EU and Africa

19 long-term volunteer placements from September 2008 to June 200

The objective of this project was to foster awareness and protection of Children and Youth Rights by involving young volunteers from different African and European countries in projects dealing with youth and children at risk as well as in projects dealing with young people of disadvantaged background / with less opportunities, such as SOS Children villages, child care centers, after school activities, and youth volunteering organizations.  Joint preparatory training and final evaluation meetings enabled the group of volunteers to meet and share experiences, as well as to engage in thematic discussions and intercultural dialogue alongside the volunteering experience. This project furthermore fostered exchange of good practice, enhanced networking and capacity building.

Project Documentation

Youth United Against Violence

EVS project in EU and Latin America

13 long-term volunteer placements from September 2008 to June 2009

This EU – LA multilateral EVS Project, which stemmed from the training seminar “Youth United against Violence” held in Quito, Guatemala, February 2007, aimed at supporting youth organisations and institutions by involving young volunteers in running educational, cultural and social activities with youth at risk. The young volunteers engaged in a variety of local hosting projects, ranging from youth clubs and youth initiated networks to community development and social work projects. The involvement of international volunteers in these projects stimulated the debate on youth violence prevention and further enhanced the interest of local host communities around volunteerism and its benefits for social development.

Promoting Young Women’s Active Citizenship

EVS project in EU, African, Asian and Latin American Countries

17 long-term volunteer placements from February 2009 to May 2009

The objective of this EVS project was to enhance capacity-building, transfer of know-how, and exchange of experience and good practice between European, African, Asian and Latin American organisations active in developing and running women empowerment programmes. Joint preparatory training and final evaluation meetings enabled the group of volunteers from EU and African, Asian and Latin American partner countries to meet and share experiences, as well as to engage in discussions about the situation of women and different approaches to women empowerment in the participating countries.