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Volunteering in Humanitarian Aid Final Consortium Meeting – Paris, June 2017

Last month brought us back to the particularly humid and hot Paris, where the volunteering in humanitarian aid (VolinHA) project began in October 2015. Two years on, the project is coming to a close. However, for many partner organisations involved in both the technical assistance and capacity-building consortium the aspect of networking and strong organisational bonds that were formed during the project will remain and prosper from here on after.

Day one was dedicated to debriefing of the 2016/17 Civic Service Volunteers. This session involved a detailed debrief of our time working in our organisations. This session gave each CSV an opportunity to reflect on their experience over the last year, with our involvement in the communication aspect of the VolinHA project.  This space provided a relaxed environment to assemble as team and unpack some of our various learning experiences. Assessing how these lessons potentially translate into our future ambitions of working in the development/humanitarian sector. It was clear to see from our discussions during the day the extent to which we have all developed, on both a personal and professional level with thanks to each organisation that hosted us for the past year.

Day two, we joined the sending organisations representatives, where we engaged in discussions of our various learnings since the inception of the project. This gave each organisation a chance to voice some of their opportunities and challenges they have experienced over the two years and some of the ways they creatively promoted the EUAVI.

Members of VolinHA – Sending and Hosting organisation at the final consortum meeting in Paris, 2017

On the final two days of the consortium, sending and hosting organisations were reunited. These two days gave time for each partners to present on their VolinHA updates over the past 6 months, emphasising host organisation’s activity. From these stimulating presentations, many interesting insights were gained through the various progressions each organisation has made within VolinHA overall, in harmony with their other operational projects.

Later on in the day, Comhlámh and FOCSIV led sessions around the cultural resource pack, carrying out some activities that would be put into resource pack. Further breakout sessions, allowed us to discuss more depth of the collective lessons learned during the VolinHA project, reflecting on how we would evaluate and translate these lessons into our organisational practices. This led us into our final discussion on how certified organisations would build a deployment project in the future.

On reflection, one outstanding element from this meeting was the rich diversity of project partners and their activities. This component combined with their strong dedication to their work and local communities really highlighted the successes of the VolinHA project.

Overall, through these meetings, we could see the many advantages of being involved in the project both from a personal and organisational level, with improvements and expansion of knowledge around humanitarian volunteering and best practices in this area. Comhlámh look forward to continuing our work in the Initiative with our involvement in new consortiums.