VAP News


UK projects – ideas welcome!

VAP is always on the lookout for new ideas to expand our programme of workcamps in the UK. This is your chance to shape the work that VAP does – and all you need is to give us your ideas!

If you are a UK-based VAP member who has participated in a project abroad or are applying to do so in the future, the chances are that you are also interested in projects on similar themes in the UK as well. So here is our question for you – do you know of any organisations in the UK that would benefit from the support of a group of international volunteers for a week or more? It might be an organisation you are already involved with yourself, or one that you have simply heard about and think might fit the bill. The only important thing at this stage is the idea! We’ll then get in touch with the organisation you suggest and see if we can develop a project there.

For inspiration, you can have a look at the organisations we organised workcamps with this year, such as the environmental conservation foundation London Wildlife Trust: http://www.wildlondon.org.uk/volunteer and the Othona peace and sustainability community: http://www.othona-bradwell.org.uk/Home. Or you could refresh your memory of VAP’s mission statement to see which issues we focus on: http://www.vap.org.uk/about-vap/. From supporting refugees to environmental work and projects with disabled people – we just want to make the world a better place!

Let us know your ideas on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Volunteer-Action-for-Peace/193838147321030?fref=ts. This is an exciting and easy way to get involved in where VAP concentrates its work and resources and could really help important UK charities and other organisations – don’t miss this opportunity!

posted on: 21 October 2014

VAP in Seoul with CCIVS

Volunteer Action for Peace is currently represented at the 33rd General Assembly and General Conference of CCIVS, the Coordination Committee for International Voluntary Service, which is taking place in South Korea. Paul Winter, our former chairman and current member of VAP’s International Working Group is our man in Seoul!

posted on: 16 October 2014

A move in the right direction

At September’s executive committee meeting, an important decision about VAP’s volunteer exchanges was made: we will no longer be treating “standard” volunteer programmes (in Europe, North America and other so-called “developed” areas) differently from what we used to call “North-South” programmes (in “developing” countries). All projects will now be presented in the same category.

This is a significant step for a whole host of reasons. For one thing, it addresses a long-standing inaccuracy in terminology that can simply cause confusion – it clearly isn’t even the case that all developed countries are in the “North” while all developing countries, still recovering from centuries of colonisation and exploitation, are in the “South”. But more importantly, the change shows that we at VAP want to move away from the idea that our projects should be divided in such a binary way between “poor” and “rich” locations at all. Of course, we are well aware that it is a fact that the situation in terms of poverty, health, education and oppression is better in some parts of the world than others. However, the committee’s discussion on this topic concluded that, as there is progress to be made all over the planet, it is better to consider these issues as being on an equal footing, rather than to perpetuate the assumption that the “North” and “South” are fundamentally different.

The other exciting effect of this decision is that volunteers placed on all projects will now be able to take part in the training that VAP offers. This opportunity was initially only available to North-South volunteers and those placed on longer-term projects. Extending training to all volunteers is another demonstration of the fact that it is just as important to prepare for a volunteer project in Iceland or Spain as it is to prepare for one in Kenya or Peru.

So there you have it: VAP has made a crucial, progressive change in its attitude towards categorising its global volunteer work. Let us know what you think about this decision on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Volunteer-Action-for-Peace/193838147321030?fref=ts

In any case, this certainly shows that committee meetings don’t have to just be about boring facts and figures!

posted on: 9 October 2014

The social side of VAP

This year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) was a great success – it combined an official update on what VAP has been up to in the last year, and was also a fun social occasion for volunteers, committee members and staff to get together and share experiences and ideas. And there’s more to come because we are about to increase our social events programme for members!

One part of the AGM that was particularly popular this year was the screening of part of a film by Chloe Ruthven, along with a chance to discuss its themes with the director herself. The film, “The Do-Gooders”, is a documentary that questions the role of aid workers and volunteers in Palestine, and as a result it provided food for an interesting debate on precisely the kind of international development work that VAP is involved in. We found that this was an exciting way to keep things varied at the AGM – along with presentations on past projects abroad and an overview of how the year has been for VAP in terms of international volunteering, UK workcamps, finances and plans for the future.

It was also a super opportunity to meet up with other volunteers and hear about each other’s experiences, and it made us realise that this is a side of VAP that we want to expand further. The thing about VAP is that it can often work out that you are placed on a project abroad, have a great time, come home and then don’t get to speak to any other members about your experiences and get new ideas from theirs. This event showed how much fun and how useful it can be to get together and report back in an informal, social setting – we had returning volunteers from places as varied as Palestine, Sweden, and Italy this time.

So if you missed out this time, do not despair! We will be holding two more social events in the near future, timed to coincide with our committee meetings just in case you decided you want to get involved in those as well. Save the dates now: Friday 23 January 2015 and Friday 8 May 2015. The events will be held in the cool new setting of The Gallery in central London (http://alanbaxter.co.uk/about/gallery-events.php) – everyone who came this year agreed it was a very impressive venue! Again, we will have a film or presentation for discussion, followed by informal chat and whatever else people want to do!

See you there : )

posted on: 6 October 2014

Volunteer in Romania this Summer

Giving something back...

Having loved my volunteering experience with children from care homes in Romania last year, I decided that this year I would do go again but do my own project to be able to expand the local charity’s work.
On 26th July I will be sitting on a plane to Romania, approaching one of the biggest challenges of this year. For two weeks I will be working with children from care homes.

Together with two other volunteers (one from Norwich and one from Cambridge) we will be organising a summer camp for children in care homes in Romania. These kids, aged six to sixteen, are either orphans or have been abandoned by their parents (e.g. because they could not cope or because they could not afford them) or have been taken away from them by social services (e.g. because of child abuse). Given their background and the trauma some of them have experienced, it will be a massive challenge to work with them.

However, I really look forward to organising a week of fun for them in which they can hopefully forget that their parents did not want them or could not care for them. I want to give them a wonderful time that they will be happy to remember.

There are two aims to the activities I am planning for the kids: first, the most obvious one is to teach them some English; the second is more therapeutic, to give them hope and self-esteem. I want them to leave the summer camp taking self-made souvenirs with them and feeling good about themselves. I know that especially the second aim will be very challenging but if I can make even the slightest difference to the lives of these children then all my efforts will have been worth it. I have seen what a difference even the smallest thing can make to them.

If you want to get involved and help us set up the camp, if you want to get to know people from different countries and learn about yourself, about your limits but also about your strengths, then join us for our workcamp in Romania.

Margot Demeter

posted on: 6 May 2014

Volunteering in Burundi

Burundi is special. It is one of the smallest African countries, and one of the most beautiful, with beaches along the shore of Lake Tanganyika and steep slopes covered with banana trees leading up to the cooler plateau country in the interior.

VAP’s partner organisation is ABSV (Alliance Burundaise du Service Volontaire), founded in 2007, bringing together two small voluntary associations founded by young Burundians keen to build a nation based on peace and reconciliation, based on sustainable development. Burundi suffered from a decade of insecurity. ABSV and others are trying to build a more hopeful future.

ABSV is based in Buterere, a suburb of the capital, Bujumbura, where people are generally poor and their homes are liable to flooding. ABSV has run workcamps here, helping to rebuild homes, teaching English, advising on HIV/AIDS and working with the local community. ABSV has been involved in distribution of school materials and food, small income-generating projects in villages, assistance to street children, construction of houses and other help for Batwa (pygmy) families, delivery of seeds and hoes, planting of 12.000 fruit trees in Kinama and Buterere (Bujumbura).

ABSV received few foreign volunteers as the country is not well known and the flight from the UK involves changing at Nairobi, Addis Ababa or Brussels but for those with a pioneering spirit it can provide a great experience.
Burundians speak French and the national language, Kirundi, but an increasing number of people know English and many also speak Swahili.

Workcamps are organized most months and some medium term volunteer posts are also available (see the database for details). Burundi waits for you!

Nigel Watt, VAP’s chairperson

posted on: 31 May 2013

Volunteering in Zimbabwe

In 1993 CCIVS, the Co-ordination Committee of International Volunteer Service, ran a special workcamp and training in Namibia. One of the participants was Innocent Katsiga from Zimbabwe. He was so inspired by the idea that he went home and very quickly set up Zimbabwe Workcamps Association - AJUDE in Mozambique grew out of the same training.

I attended one of ZWA’s first camps, building teachers’ homes near Harare and running a stall at the annual agricultural show. ZWA grew strong and made special links with Germany – and each year a group from the Social Democratic youth come to a workcamp in Zimbabwe. I also attended the celebration of ZWA’s ten years in 2003. This was at their own farm where the maize crop raises funds for the association and half the crop is donated to poor villagers. More recently when Zimbabwe’s political crisis deepened it became harder to recruit volunteers, and the government also began to try to restrict foreign funding of local associations, but the farm and workcamps went on.

A worse blow struck ZWA early in 2011 when the dynamic Innocent unexpectedly died. His widow, Beverly, and the committee decided to carry on. Beverly was already working for ZWA and was joined by the former project officer, Ratherford Mwaruta who had just returned from studying in the Netherlands.

So ZWA is back on track - and the situation in the country has also improved a lot. The US dollar has replaced the crazily inflated Zim dollar, the economy is picking up a bit and security was never really a problem. Having previously just run workcamps, Ratherford has just been in Kenya, learning from KVDA’s long experience of Medium Term Volunteers, ZWA therefore now offers an attractive list of workcamps and medium and long term placements in community centres, schools, educational institutions and national parks as well as on ZWA’s farm. They plan to have a workcamp to paint their hostel which is near to the airport and where volunteers will first arrive. Check the database and you will find a project to suit you!

Nigel Watt, VAP’s chairperson

posted on: 29 March 2012

VAP Newsletter Spring 2012

Calling all active civilians!...and no this isn’t an austerity measure..

VAP Newsletter Spring 2012

Feeling apathetic? Too much freedom of choice?? Well get busy, make a decision and relieve your mind!

Fresh Links and Opportunities

Volunteer Action for Peace (VAP) has awoken from its winter slumber and has a database quickly growing with thousands of exciting and affordable projects world wide! Join our active facebook group by following the link on the homepage and meet other budding volunteers. So get clicking at our database to get moving!

Don’t talk to us about Big Society

For those not in the know, VAP works globally towards creating and preserving international peace, justice and human solidarity for our local communities, through the very special medium of volunteering. It actually works! Just ask Nuno, the VAP badger at action@vap.org.uk. Plus it’s all done on a shoe string budget....it would make George Osborne proud.

An interesting alternative during a time of growing UK unemployment?

Why not ease your own quantities by surfing the VAP database. Many of the projects accommodate and feed volunteers for free, leaving only travel expenses and our competitive fee of £150-190 to cover organisational costs. In keeping with our grassroots approach, if there are any other charges, they are paid straight into the community that supports the volunteer during their stay. On top of this, some of the long term placements are completely free, offering the participant an invaluable education, food, accommodation and spending money in an exciting new place!

Speaking of which...Say YES to EVS!

That’s European Voluntary Service to those lucky enough to avoid the “shop talk” acronyms... EVS is a wonderful program for those younger then 30 who want to gain experience and skills whilst having a fun and exciting new life in another country for up to a year! However, due to the struggling Euro, there is some speculation as to how long this programme will continue to be funded by the EU. If you want to know more, the EVS Guru is holding an information day on Saturday April 21st in South London, so come along and plug your brain into a stream of inspiring possibilities! Contact Cedric at cedric@vap.org.uk

VAP Training Weekend 15th- 17th June

And after last year’s successful swaray, the VAP Project Co-ordinator training and North-South Training will again be a joint event held at our local partner’s outstanding location – the Clow Beck Eco Centre near Darlington. Check out the video of last years training made by VAPtech Joana, and just see for yourself - learning can be fun! http://www.vap.org.uk/vap-training-programmes/

The VAP Swallow

Nigel the swallow has just returned from a long flight to Africa. Sleeping on the wing, he visited various old and prospective partners in mind for the coming VAP 30 Plus Programme. The volunteering sector can be very youth orientated and VAP has recognised the lack of opportunities for people in later stages of their life, and is committed to developing long term placements for such volunteers. He visited our current partners in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia, and other potential partners in Kenya. Read his Zimbabwe story on our website.

The Buddha likes VAP

This summer, VAP welcomes a further new workcamp with the Buddhist organisation Triratna. After last years successful workcamps, we will now also host a group of volunteers at Buddhafield East Festival in Norfolk. It promises to be a smaller and more itimate affair, but nonetheless briming with activities amongst a warm community. Ohmmmmm... www.buddhafieldeast.com

EuropEducation?

VAP is excited to welcome the partnership of EuropEducation. This new and dynamic organisation aims to provide UK students with an exciting alternative to our expensive university system. VAP will act as a gateway, placing volunteers on projects to gain language skills before attending equally good but much more affordable degree courses. Check this space for further news about the launch of their website coming soon.

And finally...

Have you got an idea? VAP is always on the hunt for new partners or ideas, especially on home turf. If you think you have a good suggestion please get in touch!

posted on: 28 March 2012

Upcoming Training in 2012

Following our recent Executive Committee meeting we are happy to annouce the dates of this year’s training weekend. The training for UK project co-ordinators and North-South volunteers will happen on 15-17 June 2012 at the Clow Beck Eco-Centre near Darlington. Put the date in your diary!

In the meantime here is a video introducing you to this event:

posted on: 29 January 2012

2011 VAP’s Training for UK Project Coordinators

One of the possibilities of being active with VAP is by leading a project with us in the UK. For that reason we are writing you to invite you to attend VAP’s Training for UK Project Coordinators, which will take place at the Clow Beck Eco Centre, close to Darlington. The event will start at 7pm of Friday, June 10th and finish at about 1pm on Sunday 12th.

The training prepares volunteers in how to manage two weeks international volunteer projects, also known as “workcamps”, that are organised in the UK by VAP each year, in cooperation with our local project partners. The participants learn how to prepare the project with the local community, organisation, hosting and sponsoring the project. This involves practical questions like accommodation, logistics and planning. They also learn the practical interpersonal skills of group dynamics, intercultural learning, motivation, collective decision making and active delegation.

The project co-ordinators share the daily life and work of the international volunteers for two weeks supported by the local community, the VAP staff and an assigned mentor to assist with problems.
The co-ordinators participate in the project for free and travel expenses to and from the project are paid by VAP. Co-ordinators who submit the completed written report are given the option of a free placement on a VAP project overseas with one of our European partners.
To help you having an idea on what sort of projects we are expecting you to lead, we will send to those attending the training, VAP’s provisional workcamp programme for 2011.

This year, the training team will mostly be composed of a group of returned VAP volunteers that have a large experience of projects of this type. One of them will be coming from Germany to facilitate a workshop about VAP’s UN Millennium Development Goals Toolkit, which is an educational tool developed last summer by two international volunteers who were hosted by VAP in the UK for 5 months.

In line with the United Nations “International Year of Volunteers +10”, this year’s UK Project Coordinators Training will share the premises with the participants of our traditional North-South Preparation weekend for VAP volunteers going to participate in projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

This is a free training, including board and lodging. The travel expenses are covered by the participants therefore we advise you to start booking your train/bus fares asap so that they can still be affordable.

If you see yourself taking this exciting opportunity, please send us an email with a brief introduction about yourself, your experience and your motivation (no CVs please) – the latest by May 30th.

posted on: 7 May 2011

member of:
Volunteer Action for Peace, member of the Co-ordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service Volunteer Action for Peace, member of the Volunteer International Network Exchange UK
with the support of:
Volunteer Action for Peace, member of the European «Youth in Action» Programme

Quote of the day

« The outside world did not interfere, because it seemed so distant, and so we spent our spare time getting to know each other and learning about each other countries', languages and cultures. Everyone was completely relaxed. This simply would not have been possible on any other type of holiday. VAP enabled me to have a truly memorable experience. »

Ivan W. from London

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