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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 Plus it’s all done on a shoe string 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

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!

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...


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

Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Relief Workcamps

It’s been a bit more than 3 weeks since the giant earthquake hit Japan on March 11th. Our partner organisation in Japan, NICE, has repeatedly expressed its appreciation for all the support received from all over the world and for the messages of encouragement. According to Kaizawa Shinichiro from NICE, the situation in the affected areas is still very hard and therefore the organisation has arranged for special volunteer projects in three different areas. Japanese volunteers are being recruited at the moment and many applications have been received already! The first group of volunteers started its activities last Monday.

NICE would like to include international volunteers as well, but due to the nature of the activities it is not possible to recruit too many for the moment. In later stages it is foreseen that more and more international volunteers are needed for rehabilitation work which will probably take at least ten years. In Rukuzen-Takada for example, where almost the entire city was destroyed, NICE will start recruiting international volunteers in mid-April.

NICE believes that this disaster can bring the opportunity to reconsider and redesign life, society and the economy of their country and even of the whole modern world civilization, with special emphasis on the energy issue. What happened in Japan was of course a terrible disaster, however it is possible to learn from this experience to improve the world, as much as possible!

If you are interested to apply for the earthquake/tsunami relief workcamps in Japan please contact VAP by email.

posted on: 7 April 2011

2011 VAP Spring News

After a long harsh winter, milder winds and bluer skies are finally gracing the shores of our little island. As the first buds begin to show, VAP’s online database is also growing with wonderful opportunities and stimulating projects for 2011. Soon there will be almost 2000 projects all over the world with new and long established partner organisations. So stop looking at facebook and start browsing our database.

This year, VAP has decided to combine its Co-ordinator Training and North South Training on 10-12 June at the beautiful location of the Clow Beck Eco Centre in North Yorkshire. Although at the same time and in the same place, the trainings will be conducted seperately during working hours. The Co-ordinator Training concentrates on developing skills and the confidence of participants, with the opportunity to lead a workcamp during the coming summer. The North South Training provides a non formal education in volunteering outside of Europe, helping you adapt more easily to places where life may be a little different. Our expanding VAP training team, made up of previous volunteers, has years of experience and professional expertise, making this a fun and highly stimulating weekend. The event is also free, with accommodation provided and the food cooked between us, in the spirit of true volunteering, leaving participants to just pay for travel expenses. After the great demand and success of last year’s course, we recommend you book a limited place early!

VAP is also pleased to annouce that its UK hosting programme has expanded to include two new partners this summer. Groups of international volunteers will take part in workcamps at the Taraloka Centre in Cheshire and the Buddhafield Festival in Devon. As developing our volunteering programme in the UK is a core aim for VAP, we hope these new contacts will develop into long lasting partnerships.

2011 is also the United Nations ’International year of Volunteers +10’, so what better a time to get yourself involved and volunteer on a project yourself! VAP is a very springy charity who specialise in grass roots volunteering which won’t break your bank account. We have again voted to sustain our competitive fee of £150-£190 to cover administration and organisational costs. This leaves you with only travel expenses, and in some of the more remote locations, an affordable participation fee to be paid to the hosting organisation for their admin costs as well as to provide allowance for accommodation, food, tools etc. So get on it!

Did you know your government has made 8 promises to end world poverty? If you are not aware, don’t worry – you’re not alone! In the summer of 2010, VAP successfully hosted two European Voluntary Service volunteers in pricey old London, through funding from EU Youth in Action programme via the British Council. The resulting toolkit, which aims to raise awareness on the United Nations’ Millenieum Development Goals, far exceeded our expectations. We are now pleased to now offer this toolkit for free online here

For those interested, we are also a registered sending organisation for European Voluntary Service projects. These offer 6-12 months placements in Europe completely free, including food, accommodation and even a bit of pocket money! You must be aged between 18-30 to take part and the placement process can take at least 3 months.

The VAP squirrel, Nigel Watt, our treasurer and long standing human rights activist, has been very busy hoarding information this winter. A new publication called ’The Power of Action’ has been published by our global association the Co-ordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service. It details the history of human rights, CCIVS and the UN. For more details contact

We are also pleased to anounce that VAP is now an elected member of the Executive Committee of CCIVS and the VAP badger, Nuno Doria, our Programme Manager, was appointed to the new role of General Secretary.

Mellow regards from the VAP team

posted on: 25 March 2011

VAP’s Executive Commitee met in January 2011

On 22 January, the Executive Commitee of Volunteer Action for Peace gathered at Berkeley in Gloucestershire. The members came together to plan the year ahead, following a productive evaluation of 2010 - a year marked by the hosting of the first two EVS volunteers in London, the management of multiple workcamps in the UK, the development of a creative UN Millennium Development Goals Toolkit, new international partnerships and the active participation in the exciting International Congress of Voluntary Service which took place in Barcelona in early December.

In 2011, VAP’s initiatives will be in line with the International Year of Volunteers+10. As a first announcement, the VAP team is organising a joint weekend of activities, including the well-known North-South training and the UK Project Co-ordinator training, to be held in 10-12 June at the Clow Beck Centre, one of our project partners in the UK. More news will be posted soon!

posted on: 11 February 2011

Work on gender in Africa with VAP through EVS

Gender sensitivity at (voluntary) work
: Centralised EVS Africa-Europe

At the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the celebration of the 1st International Women Day in 1911, as well as of the celebration of 2011 as both the European Year of Voluteering and the UN International year of Volunteers +10, the Coordinating Committee of International Voluntary Service (CCIVS) will run a centralized group EVS project addressing gender issues in International Voluntary Service (IVS) and youth programmes: “Gender sensitivity at (voluntary) work”.

The project, which takes into account the importance given by the European Commission and the UN to Gender Equality as a prerequisite to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and build sustainable societies, as well as the priority given to the African continent in terms of development cooperation, is the first concrete outcome of the ongoing Africa-Europe project “Culture meets Concepts”, which took place during the year 2009.

The project aims at exploring gender roles in different societies and linking the general reflections on gender sensitivity to the participation of young women and men in IVS projects and their interaction in diverse cultural contexts. The wide range of field projects, while practically addressing key development issues and national priorities – from education to climate change, from HIV prevention to youth and women employement – will thus see a progressive introduction of the gender perspective, and generate productive exchanges and learning processes on this topic for both the volunteers and the hosting communities.

Eighteen volunteers from CCIVS member organisations in Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK (VAP) will be hosted for a 6-months period in the African continent, where CCIVS member organisations in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Togo, Uganda and Zambia. After a first period of research, the volunteers will organise targeted actions to promote culturally appropriate gender sensitivity activities in IVS projects and with the hosting communities, using and developing specific non-formal education tools. An EVS volunteer in CCIVS office will follow the programme, working in particular on the development of a gender sensitivity tool-kit and promoting gender as a key cultural issue in international voluntary service projects, at the occasion of the celebration of 2011 as both the European Year of Voluteering and the UN International year of Volunteers +10.


For more information please contact VAP.

posted on: 5 July 2010

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

« I can say that the best things about the workcamp and this whole experience were the chance of making a real difference to the lives of very needy children. This is an extremely valuable project where volunteers can have a massive impact. Also the possibility of learning a huge amount about a country so different from our own. I learnt ten times as much by carrying out a workcamp than I would ever do backpacking. »

Dominic K. from Slimbridge

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