1992-2009: Expansion in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe

The famous writer, Albert Camus, who was a supporter of SCI, commented on the volunteers: “A writer who wants to be a witness sometimes feels he is lonely…But you are demonstrating every day that men can meet each other, that dialogue is always possible and that loneliness does not exist.

From “Breaking down barriers 1945-76”

CCIVS is not perfect, it has its flaws and problems, but CCIVS is the best we have got in terms of a global umbrella. It has a lot of potential, with a global network reaching into remote areas in more than 100 countries. It has the capacity to advance the common ground, to improve quality standards and to create cohesion and renewal”. Simona Costanzo Sow (CCIVS Director 2000-2009)

After the fall of the Berlin wall, the membership profile of CCIVS changed: the former state youth organisations in the former Eastern Bloc countries changed into or were replaced by new organisations similar to the volunteer associations in other parts of the world. Global exchanges became increasingly important introducing South-South exchange, strengthening of regional networks, the development of IVS organisations in Asia and the reinforced efforts of IVS organisations working in conflict and post-conflict areas such as Algeria, the Balkans, Palestine, Uganda and Sudan, Burundi, Western Kenya and West Sahara.

New organisations were born in Africa with CCIVS support and CCIVS invested a lot of effort to set up regional coordination bodies in Africa and later in Asia. In 1997 CCIVS also invested energy in encouraging solidarity and volunteer involvement in conflict areas and a booklet was published on this theme (“Volunteering in Conflict Areas”, 1997).

Campaigns about globalisation and its relevance for local action have been conceived since the start of the 21st century. Issues of global relevance such as environmental action and climate change, but also HIV and AIDS prevention and care and promotion of literacy have received increased attention. These reflections led to campaigns on sustainable development in its largest sense including the concept of sustainable consumption and responsible attitudes in everyday life beyond the project itself. Generally speaking, the common features of conflicts arising in the context of projects and cultural diversity as an explicit policy and world vision have been formulated more explicitly over the last decade. Recent years have also witnessed an increased debate about the very essence of international voluntary service and its relevance in the society of the 21st century. Accessibility and relevance for the local population are key criteria for voluntary service to continue to fulfill its mission to provoke lasting change for all.

The space for the improvement of quality standards for exchanges and for discussion on the development of IVS was provided by CCIVS. Leading the reflections of the organisations on the impact, recognition and policies related to IVS, CCIVS members focus around the key topics such as Intercultural Dialogue, Sustainable Development, Cultural Heritage, Health and Conflict Transformation. By the end of 1990 the CCIVS Charter for International Voluntary Service is created by CCIVS member organizations (Universal Charter for International Voluntary Service, 27th General Conference of CCIVS, 8-13th November 1998, Rabat – Morocco

CCIVS has supported many projects in the new millennium. These include:

– Training on HIV/AIDS awareness rising through theatre: Act, Learn and Teach: Theatre, HIV and AIDS Toolkit for Youth in Africa
– Regional training seminars in Togo and Ghana on information technology and on literacy and community development.
– A seminar in Ukraine to develop voluntary service in countries of the Community of Independent States.
– A series of seminars relating to conflict (Italy 2007, Armenia 2008) resulting in a publication/CD-Rom on “Conflict and Volunteering” which relates to ways to deal constructively with conflict
in a volunteer project. It focuses on conflicts inherent in the project itself (between participants, organisers, local communities etc) as well as on projects taking place in an area of conflict.
– In 2007 CCIVS initiated a global campaign to promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) through international voluntary service, linked to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

Project in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus

The idea of a Turkish-Greek friendship camp was initiated by Gençtur and SCI Hellas during a study tour organised by SCI-Hellas to both countries in 1992. Although it was planned at the beginning as a joint project, only the Turkish part could be realised and this camp was held from 4-18 August 1993. The location of the camp was in Canakkale, a city by the Dardanelles and very close to Troy, the ancient Greek settlement. The Mayor of the town Mr Ismail Özay, who was very keen on the idea of hosting such a camp in his city, supported the camp in every way. The project was preparation work for the Troy Festival and some gardening work in a park. During the work in the park the volunteers also painted a wall with pictures representing “Peace”. One German and one Canadian volunteer attended as observers besides the 7 Greek and 4 Turkish volunteers in the camp. The group, consisting of 7 females and 6 male, got along quite well and worked as a team. Discussions were held on different subjects; and backgammon tournaments were organised as a common cultural point. Although some local people reacted slightly when they learned that there were “Greeks” in the group, the attitude of the people towards the volunteers was warm and friendly. A trip to Göçeada Island on the Aegean Sea, where there are still some Greek people living, gave the volunteers a chance to have look at the situation of those people and Greek volunteers were able to talk to the locals there in their own language.

Thus this Turkish-Greek friendship camp was a success and a good beginning for such projects. It helped the young people of the respective countries to get to know each other better and to diminish prejudices and strengthen friendships. However, prejudice continues on both sides and this may account for the fact that no further such joint camps have been organised since 1993.

However, in the summer 1996, SCI-Hellas organised a workcamp in Cyprus with the aim of understanding the conflict on the island. Volunteers repaired houses in a deserted former Turkish village in the Greek-controlled part of the island and they visited the only remaining village with a mixed population.

Solidarity Workcamps

The solidarity camp had been a traditional method of work of a number of voluntary device organisations, especially in Europe. It is a means by which oppressed groups and liberation movements can be supported, when the volunteers clearly cannot go to the field of conflict themselves It also provides an effective method of education for the volunteers taking part, and they in turn can educate a wider public. Media coverage of such camps is also a method of getting through to the general public. In practical terms, such camps can undertake work which directly helps the people in conflict e.g. collecting and refurbishing tools and equipment, fundraising, preparing material or campaigning directly through street theatre, school visits etc. Solidarity projects have been organised in connection with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and Namibia; the conflicts in Western Sahara; Nicaragua; ex Yugoslavia and the Middle East.

Solidarity Workcamps for ex-Yugoslavia: two workcamps were held in Germany 1994 at Voerde and Krefeld with participants from 10 European countries as part of the programme of the German branch of SCI to collect donations in the form of money and material goods for refugees in former Yugoslavia. At Voerde, participants distributed information sheets to the general public about the situation of conflict in ex-Yugoslavia; they repaired bicycles and organised children’s and peace parties for the community in Voerde; and they shared experiences and discussed trends in the Yugoslav conflict in order better to understand the evolution of tension, the behaviour of the actors involved and the risk of spillover of the conflict into the whole Balkan region. The workcamp at Krefeld focused particularly on the town of Pakrac, and the collection of donations and material goods was destined for the population of Pakrac. This camp was jointly organised by Emmaus and SCI Germany. There was an information campaign, including an exhibition and information stall on Pakrac in the centre of the city of Krefeld; donations were collected and solidarity parcels for people in Pakrac were packed and dispatched. There was a discussion on “peaceful ways out of the Balkan Crisis”. There were visits to Serbian and Croatian friends and children’s party for refugee children, including some from the Croatian, Serbian and Kosovo Albanian communities useful in increasing the participants’ knowledge about the conflict. The volunteers were active and motivated, with a good team spirit. The information given by both the Serbians and Croatians was considered to be very “one-sided”.