On 15th to 17th of August Pärnumaa Volunteer Center hostes partners from Finland and Latvia to discuss possible cooperation for the future. On the first day we introduced our three day plan, visited PAKONE (Paikuse Youth Center), where there are a lot of volunteers. PANOKE is also a member of our volunteer network in Pärnumaa. After that we showed our guests Pärnu and then had dinner.The next day was a seminar day. We started with introducing our organizations. Latvian organization Trepes (in English Stairs) is an organization that is focused on many groups (kids, youth elderly people and also some risk groups). They are active and involve a lot of volunteers.
Valikko-verkostot is a network of volunteer coordinators where our Finnish partner is from. It is a network in Finland whos goal is to create more quality in volunteering and share information. They have 150 members only in Helsingi who are working in different organizations and have 2rd – 4th sector partners. The biggest problem they are focused on right now is unemployment so there are a lot of coordinators to share information and opportunities. They meet every month, do a lot of teamwork, volunteer and leader motivation. The cooperate with schools and many organizations.
After introduction of our own organizations we had a guest Zoe. Zoe is a EVS volunteer from France and she has been in Estonia for almost a year. The most important points from her speech were following:
It is important to talk with your volunteer to find out what they really like and make them feel useful. If you don’t need them sometimes say that we don’t need you right now, do something else. Conversation and communication is really important. To be sure what they want to learn.
Be honest and do your thing is good to say when you don’t have anything to give to volunteer.
In conclusion she really likes Estonia and the time she has been here, because she has found a lot of amazing friends and seen and learned so much.
The next presentation and workshop was from Eha Paas, Estonian Volunteer Network leader.
– Network can not be sustainable if you don’t have any specific needs. Every participant in network has their own role to not feel left out. If you want successful network, people have to know each other.
The question why should we cooperate?
The answer was that when we cooperate we will have bigger influence, contacts, new skills and knowledge, experience, more development, recourses, volunteers, innovation, more ideas for long term cooperation. We can share good practices, connect in personal level and have a purpose. We can have a better promotion, cross sector partnership, new ways of support and recourses and how to do something different.
With these answers we created a groups of needs:
Capacity building – Development – volunteers, money, recourses, To find resources, bigger influence
Learning process – Innovation, new skills, knowledge, more ideas for long term cooperation, share good practices
International partnership – New partners, contacts, visiting each other, exchange volunteers
FUN – everything has to be fun – our working style is that cooperation should be fun
After the workshop we visited organizations in Pärnumaa network- volunteer police and organization Older Brother Older Sister Pärnu. We ended the day in Lindi village, where we talked about village associations and how they work with volunteers.
The last day was started by Karin Luts, who talked about her volunteering experience in Kenya. She gave a lot of important and useful points about long term volunteering and volunteering in different countries and in different culture. For people who want to go for example in Africa, their first idea is that they want to go and fix the world, but they do no understand that it is not that simple. If you go as a volunteer to such different culture you have to be very flexible and open otherwise people won’t take you as one of them, but they will push you away. Other really important thing is that when you want to go so far away from your home you have to be emotionally stable without any problems of your own, because you will go to help others and you wont have the possibility to help yourself. Karin also pointed out that people who applied with her to Kenya, they wanted to go for others- to help and others. That was the firsti thing in the list of “why should I go to Kenya as a volunteer”. Karin told that for her, it was not just about helping other it was also about learning and developing herself, because if you go in such country you can not change much about what is going on there and when you have to leave you will still feel that maybe your expectations did not reach the level you wanted to achieve, but if you go with a mindset that you also want to do it for yourself you will come back and you will feel, think, see the world differently. The most importantly you have learned to trust, feel and work with yourself.
After Karin we wanted to find out the exact tasks that we had to take home to take action together. With the workshop that was leaded by Alyssa Dye, an YIFE volunteer from Nebraska, US, we found out those important tasks:
- plan a timetable for visits: how we get to know each other better
- write stories/blog posts about our actions
- facebook page/group
- voluntary gate in Estonia
- 1 study trip to Finland (2-3 days) Application to Nordic Foundation
- share our timetables of our seminars/ education/ development days
- Key 2 Method curriculum
- Swap seminar for international NGOs
- Voluntary day Riga-> Pärnu->Helsinki
- Personal development training for coordinators; team
- Useful, but very simple info about organizations to get to know each other (materials and web-page information)
- 2-3 clean topics which are common for all of us
- cooperation memorandum
- preparation and implementation of a project together
- find concrete contact persons
- planning dates, deadlines (what we do, what we have done etc.)
And from those examples we chose 3 most important thing we are going to go with:
- Find concrete contact persons – agreement who will lead the process in every country (Satu)
- Experience training for our organizations – November – leadership and communication training in Riga
- Timetable (Ieva) and FB-group (Agnes)
The seminar was instructive, we had time to learn about each other and we saw where and how can we cooperate and what each of us is waiting from the cooperation. Right now we will start with small tasks, but we will try next year to move into writing projects and doing bigger activities together.
Alltogether we had 22 participants. And a big thank you for KÜSK, we could have not done it without you!