On the 21st October 2020, the consortium members of the EU-funded VIVID-T project launched its first conference on inclusive volunteering and humanitarian action. The online event, led by our partner Viatores Christi with the support of CBM Ireland, saw about 70 participants brought together to discuss the future of international volunteering. The audience was diverse with representatives of the Irish government, the EU as well grassroots organisations from Africa and Asia.
Viatores Christi took this opportunity to present the results of its new report on online volunteering, while various topics were covered such as localisation, deinstitutionalisation, orphanage volunteering, volunteers with disabilities. Key panellists from the development sector shared main reflections on the research report and its impact on international future volunteering.
Golden nuggets of information were shared during the day, including:
- Online volunteering can create an enabling environment for localisation as local actors could take a stronger role in volunteering. Expertise can be shared through online volunteering, including organisations of persons with disabilities, as long distances and challenging travelling conditions would not be a hindrance to participation.
- Online volunteering could enable organisations of persons with disabilities to have a stronger role in development and humanitarian responses. However, the biggest challenges are the lack of equipment as well as poor internet connections. Especially, when communicating with grassroot level organisations of persons with disabilities.
- Online volunteering can provide opportunities for persons with disabilities to volunteer in development and humanitarian programmes as well as provide a pathway to a career in development. However, online volunteering should not be the only way for persons with disabilities to volunteer. Persons with disabilities should have the same opportunities as all volunteers.
- An uniformization of all EU volunteering programmes taking into account all good practices inclusive of persons with disabilities;
- Provisions in all volunteering legislations in the EU and its Members States for persons with disabilities, making possible volunteering allowance and disability allowance;
- An overview of disability in Latin America: how it is perceived in the socio-cultural context, how volunteering associations deal with the issue of inclusion in volunteering projects and what challenges and opportunities they propose to make volunteering increasingly accessible;
- Tearfund Ireland’s presentation addressed the issue of volunteering in orphanages. They spoke about De-Institutionalisation and the global move away from orphanages. The research increasingly finds that children are better off in families or community-based care. With children in disabilities 17 times more likely to be placed in institutional care, this conversation is vitally important in the context of disability inclusion. Tearfund encouraged conference attendees to engage in personal reflection around our own motivations and involvement with orphanages, citing the statistic that 80% of children living in orphanages worldwide have at least one living parent. The sad truth is that orphanage tourism and volunteering are sustaining this industry. We must all work to ensure that vulnerable children receive the best care and the best chances in life.
For more information about the VIVID-T project, consult EDF’s webpage.