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Volunteering is one of the dominant pillars in the framework of development, cooperation, and humanitarian aid. It is an activity supporting the good, carried out with free will and with free choice. Volunteer, also called a specialist is a person who, voluntarily and without claim to salary, provides his or her (professional) knowledge in the field of development, cooperation, and humanitarian aid. They are also involved in building NGO's capacities, public education, health institutions, and communities in partner developing countries.
In 2011, the European Commission declared the European Year of Volunteering. This move drew attention to the need for intercultural development, strengthening solidarity and mutual understanding between nations. The importance of volunteering was also confirmed by the Government of the Slovak Republic with the adoption of Act no. 406/2011 coll: " About volunteering on the amendment of certain laws " which brought recognition and visibility of volunteering by the state and improved protection of volunteers, especially in their activities abroad within development programs. Act no. 392/2015 coll: "About development Cooperation and on amendments to certain acts as amended by 281/2019 coll " defined sending the volunteers as one of the forms of implementation of ODA SR (Official Development Aid of Slovak Republic).
In 2012, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic approved a pilot program of sending volunteers. Since then, it has been one of the forms of ODA SR provided by SAIDC (Slovak Agency for International Development Cooperation). Volunteers are sent to developing countries according to the list of the DAC (Development Assistance Committee) and the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). Sending process is focused on supporting priority countries of the currently valid Medium-Term Development Cooperation Strategy of the Slovak Republic.
Most traditional donors use volunteering as one of the forms of ODA.
VIDEO: Mr Andrij Dichťaruk, volunteer seconded to Moldova.
Sending young people or experts to contribute to development projects and gain experience in development issues, providing unpaid assistance, passing on know-how to local associations are typical forms of this modality of development cooperation.
The secondment of volunteers and expert volunteers supports the fulfillment of the ODA objectives of the Slovak Republic in developing countries, such as poverty reduction, assistance in the transformation of society, or raising the level of education, thus contributing to the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda.
This form of volunteering can be carried out in Slovakia by the SlovakAid program involving individual grant recipients. And also through European Volunteering or UN Volunteers.
The program of sending volunteers and expert volunteers has several important goals.
The main goal of volunteering is to support SlovakAid's development interventions in program /partner communities by the current Medium-Term Development Cooperation Strategy. Among these, volunteering helps the building of national staff capacity. Volunteers themselves gain knowledge about the country, its culture, develop their language skills, new practical skills, professional and intercultural training, and last but not least, experience in the development sector. These competencies are not possible to gain in the Slovak Republic by work.
It is impossible to obtain a comprehensive academic education in the field of development studies at Slovak universities, and therefore a group of experts with practical experience with development issues is formed by sending volunteers and expert volunteers.
Abroad, volunteers strengthen capacities and communities in partner developing countries through the transfer of knowledge and skills. Young volunteers develop and acquire knowledge of work in development cooperation. They create institutional relations and help to establish long-term partnerships between Slovak entities and their allies in developing countries. Volunteers also build awareness of the Slovak public sector and about development activities through return activities.
The mechanism of sending volunteers and expert volunteers is declared in the current Concept of sending volunteers and professional volunteers. The conditions for sending volunteers to developing countries always state in the prevailing SAIDC call for a given calendar year.
The SlovakAid (SAIDC) is a donor. Annually, in the first months of the calendar year, the agency publishes a call for applications for voluntary project grants. Based on this call, Slovak organizations operating in the humanitarian and development sphere submit applications for subsidies for volunteer projects, which are either approved or not. Applications are evaluated by the embassies, the project and financial manager (PFM) who is responsible for volunteering projects, and by the members of the evaluation committee. Evaluations of PFM have a recommendatory character. Preference is the evaluation of the members and decision of the committee who decide on its approval or disapproval of submitted projects. Subsequently, the confirmation of the projects, the proposals are sent for signature to the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. After the Minister signs the documents, both approved and unapproved applicants are informed about the result in writing. Following the approval of the requested subsidy, the volunteers themselves are sought, prepared, and sent by Slovak organizations, which are our beneficiaries. Therefore, we recommend to all-volunteer enthusiasts monitor to organization’s websites, social media or contact them if they currently plan to send volunteers.
Volunteers and expert volunteers always carry out development activities pro bono, on behalf of the sending non-profit organization, which guarantees their placement in the host organization. It involves them in building public awareness of development cooperation upon the return of volunteers and expert volunteers.
The duration of the voluntary sending is a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 12 months. The length of the expert sending is a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 3 months.
The sending of volunteers and expert volunteers is governed by the program document approved by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. All information regarding the conditions for the already approved grant projects is available in the current version of the Manual for sending Volunteers, valid for the given year - 2021 (and its annexes).
As part of the volunteer program, the main conditions for the sending of a volunteer and expert volunteer include the age of the volunteer - from 18 years of age and Slovak nationality. The aim is to involve young and older people more widely in development cooperation and humanitarian aid. The purpose is to create a network of people with a professional interest in the field and contribute to sharing and transferring know-how and gained expertise.
Every year, SAIC announces a call for the "Program for the sending of volunteers and expert volunteers to developing countries" when, according to the proposals of the given year, the applicant applies for a subsidy with mandatory attachments:
All details related to the calls and the conditions for successfully obtaining the grant are available in the proposal itself. SAIDC concept documents include links with the agenda of sending volunteers to developing countries mentioned above.
In 2009 St. Elisabeth University of Health Care and Social Work successfully sent six volunteers to three African countries: Lesotho, Kenya, and Rwanda via the SlovakAid program.
One of their regular and long-term projects is sending a volunteer to the St. Cecilia Orphanage, Ha Buasono, a health and social care provider for orphans living in Lesotho. The project has a long, successful tradition founded in 2005 with the support of the St. Elisabeth University of Health Care and Social Work, in collaboration with the parish of Ha Buasono. Volunteers in Lesotho are helping with social activities in the orphanage. They organize leisure activities for children, participate in their education, with the aim of better integration of children into society.
Another African country to which the St. Elisabeth University of Health Care and Social Work regularly sends volunteers is Rwanda. Volunteers are sent to the Kibeho Anti-Nutrition Center (below a photo of a Slovak volunteer measuring the circumference of the center's children's client), run by the St. Vincent Pallotti's Missionary Sisters, as one of a network of centre for the poorest people in the country. Volunteers help with the operation of the antinutritional centre, perform field social work to help mothers of malnourished children, or assist in providing nutritional, professional and educational and health consulting.
Successful projects of the St. Elizabeth University had been complete in Kenya, wherein cooperation with St. Kizito Boys Rehabilitation Center is implementing a rehabilitation program for children in Nairobi. The volunteer helps with the operation of the Slovak logistics center, participates in working with children from the rehabilitation centers, where he/she introduces them to the principles of resocialization.
The beneficiary also sends volunteers via the SlovakAid program to the Ushirikiano Center, St. Mary Catholic Dispensary in Msabaha, Malindi, located in Kenya. They regularly call for grants for voluntary projects in Uganda-Buikwe, in particular for a center focusing on HIV treatment, malnutrition, and population education; or to India, wherein the state of Karnataka in the Manvi region, they are involved in a social and health project and co-operates on the school project, an anti-nutrition center, and a small clinic.
The Two-colour world also regularly applies for grants for volunteer projects, especially for sending volunteers to Cambodia to the House of Family orphanages in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. The House of Family project is part of a network of Slovak children's homes in Cambodia called the House of Family, whose founders and coordinators are the St. Elisabeth University of Health Care and Social Work and The Two-Colour World. Orphanages are for HIV-positive orphans in Cambodia. The House of Family Sihanoukville was founded in 2009. The role of the volunteer in the projects is mainly logistics and administrative activities, activities with children, and social work. At the same time, the volunteer helps to promote the project at the local and foreign levels.
In 2019, ADRA sent volunteers to Georgia, Lebanon, and Moldova through SlovakAid.
ADRA also sent a volunteer to Lebanon as part of the project Support of education for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon (photo above). The main task of the volunteer in Lebanon was to participate in the ongoing activities of ADRA Lebanon, especially in areas such as migration, integration, and education of Syrian refugee children, research of current population needs, finding opportunities for local population development, and others.
A volunteer was sent to Georgia as part of the Supporting a peaceful and inclusive society in Georgia program, which worked for the host NGO International Center for Peace and Integration (ICPI), which serves as a platform for developing confident, progressive, engaged youth and civil society. The volunteer carried out activities with high school and university students, focusing on non-formal education in the divisions of ecology, economics, migration, education, peace, social entrepreneurship, and development. Volunteer participated in obtaining funding for the host organization, creating, preparing, and implementing projects.
Another important matter, in which a volunteer sent by the civic association ADRA participated, was a project called Encouragement of sustainable development in Moldova. The key objective of the project was to support the development of the local organization EcoVisio. The project also focused on assisting and improving the economy in Moldova. Additionally, support for development cooperation between Moldova and Slovakia. A volunteer in Moldova participated in constructing the first AGRO-FOOD INCUBATOR in the country, which improves conditions for small and medium-sized businesses in the countryside.
The organization regularly sends volunteers to two African countries - Uganda and Rwanda.
The goal of projects in Uganda is to support the local community, to help to develop a region that is suffering from a high incidence of HIV. The reception of large numbers of refugees from South Sudan also complicates the situation. Volunteers are sent in two semi-annual rounds. Agency recommends sending three volunteers at once during one program. During the stay, volunteers coordinate activities in the center, organize leisure events for children and their education- teaching English. They also cooperate with local teachers in the fieldwork of the Distance Adoption Project.
Volunteer projects in Rwanda take place mainly at the Cultural Centre of Vincent Pallotti, established in 2016. Project access preschool education and facilitate access to education for children from disadvantaged families. The objective of the center's work is also to prevent children's diseases or increase the quality of nutritional values of food. Volunteers participate in the coordination of the center's activities. They spend time with preschool children and organize afternoon leisure activities. Among those activities, volunteers participate and distribute nutritional food to children outside the cultural center and the project.
The organization regularly sends volunteers to two African countries - Uganda and Ethiopia.
In Ethiopia, volunteers participated in two projects of the Vincentian Sisters. Children and young people aged 11 to 26, who come from disadvantaged families, were taught English and computer practice by volunteers. They also prepared leisure activities and creative workshops in the local youth center. During the school holidays, they paid extra attention to students lagging in school or have special needs. In addition, they helped with project administration, identification of new donors and especially from abroad.
In Uganda, a volunteer helped with the extracurricular activities of the local Primary School of St. Charles Lwang, the local choir, and music and dance groups Bamusanyusa Cultural Group and Nkwenge Cultural Group. The volunteer assisted teachers at the local VICODE training center, which offers girls from poor conditions a tailoring course and the basics of working with a computer.
Questions related to volunteer projects and other matters are to be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section. To provide additional information to the appeals, SAIDC conducts information seminars for potential applicants. Meetings are held after the announcement of the call. Agency will inform potential recipients via email as well as by publishing the information on the website.
Ing. Sabina BurešováProject and Financial Manager Volunteers, Financial firstname.lastname@example.org.: +421-2-5978-2608