VMM Joins EU Aid Volunteers Initiative
Following on from attending our new EU project kick-off meeting in Brussels in February at the offices of ECHO – The Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, which is the European Commission’s department for overseas humanitarian aid and civil protection – VMM had our own project consortium kick-off meeting in Dublin earlier this month.
Our project, ‘Volunteering for Humanity’, is funded by the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative of ECHO and is composed of four small, community and international development volunteer organisations from across the EU. With 50 years of experience in international development and volunteering, VMM is leading this project and will share our knowledge and expertise with our partners, Lithuanian NGDO Platform, Keric from Slovakia and Adice from France, and will of course learn from them in return.
Building the Capacity of Volunteer Organisations to Participate in Community and International Development
The objective of our Volunteering for Humanity project is to pool our collective talents and resources to build the capacity of each of our volunteer organisations so that we are better able to participate in community and international development projects along with the bigger, well-known, professional NGOs. The big NGOs tend to focus on emergency aid relief more than the long-term, capacity and resilience building projects of VMM and our project members, which help to prevent emergencies or which continue to help and empower communities long after an emergency is officially declared over.
As well as certification as EU Aid Volunteers sending organisations, Volunteering for Humanity’s aim is to spread the lessons, methods and resources of our project to a wider network of volunteer community and international development organisations in Europe and beyond. As such, with a focus on utilizing our combined resources and resourcefulness to build our organisational capacities we, therefore, combined a traditional kick-off meeting format, of introduction to the project and discussion over strategy and budgets, with a day-long facilitation workshop to start us off.
Volunteering for Humanity Kicks-Off in Dublin
The activities of a facilitation workshop require participants to examine the dynamics of group projects, the methods and styles of personal communication used, consciously or otherwise, and the diverse personality traits and capabilities that make up a successful team. Focusing on communication in such a way helps team members get to know each other, learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, how they and others fit in a group dynamic and maybe which aspects they might become aware of and work on. It also opens up avenues of creative communication, freely circulating ideas, and is a fun way to start off, what can often easily be, another boring meeting. There was no fear of this as we were in the very competent and friendly care of Frank Naughton, from Kimmage Development Studies Centre, of Maynooth University Department of International Development.
After the facilitation workshop on the first day, we got down to two days where each organisation personally introduced their history, activities and ethos; VMM presented an introduction to the rules and regulations for an EU Aid Volunteers project; followed by discussion around the details. With a three-day schedule in Dublin, the evenings provided the opportunity to go out for something to eat and get to know each other, our backgrounds and even our cultures all the better.
The members of the Volunteering for Humanity project got on exceptionally well and we can safely say that we are now friends, as well as colleagues: and that we are going to do some great work in, and for, communities everywhere, sending volunteers to projects overseas in the near future as certified EU Aid Volunteers sending organisations and empowering other, similar volunteer organisations to do so too.