1 ANNUAL REPORT 2014 Stichting Vrijwillige Internationale Aktie (VIA) Dutch Branch of Service Civil International (SCI) Marius van Bouwdijk Bastiaansestraat SP Amsterdam rekening:
2 Contents Introduction... 3 Organisational structure and communication... 3 Projects and activities... 4 Citizens Beyond Walls... 4 Introduction Day VIA The Peace Week... 5 Almelo Workcamp... 6 AZC Schalkhaar... 7 Refugees... 8 MOCANA... 9 Evaluation Day Public Relationships Website & Communications Liberation Day Volunteer Placements Placement Officer Placements 2014 overview Statistics International: Service Civil International (SCI) SCI Placement Officer Training Exchange Evaluation Meeting International Committee Meeting.16 Participating in international groups APPENDIX 1: FINANCIAL REPORT Overview Own Capital / Balance / Activa / Passiva Income / Expenses Summary & Budget APPENDIX 2: Report of Elin from Syrian refugee camp in Jordan... 21
3 Introduction VIA is the Dutch branch of Service Civil International (SCI), an international peace organization. SCI was founded just after the First World War by a group of international volunteers who worked together in France for the reconstruction of destroyed villages. The IVH (International Voluntary Emergency Services) was created after the floods of 1953, and Stichting VIA was founded in SCI has grown into a global network over the years, with branches in Europe, Asia and the US and partners all around the world. Those branches and partners organize their own work projects with the participation of international volunteers. SCI s mission is to promote peace. In order to operate effectively on this mission, SCI works with a strategic plan on an international level. The individual branches are asked to contribute to the strategic plan described points. This strategic plan sets volunteering and short-term projects but also other activities such as peace education, information, networking with other peace organizations and participating in public and social activities. The activities of VIA are diverse: from short-term volunteer projects to supporting social initiatives. In this annual report VIA offers an overview of the numerous activities and projects carried out by the organization in 2014 in order to make its contribution to SCI s main goal: peace. Among the various projects was Citizens Beyond Walls (CBW), a collaborative project aimed at opposing extreme right wing growth in Europe in a non-violent way. Organisational structure and communication In 2013 the figure of the Branch Manager was implemented for the first time at VIA. In 2014 VIA evaluated the importance of this role for the organization, which has proven to be extremely useful in order to keep up with VIA s activities. It was also decided to try something totally new: to join an international SCI project. This was a risk we took, but we felt we had to search for new ways. It turned out to be a big success as the Citizens Beyond Walls project introduced a lot of activity in VIA and attracted many new volunteers. We continued with our monthly meetings, which means at least one physical gathering every month. In some months these were the Preparation Day, Evaluation Day or, for example, Activists Day. In other months they were meetings in the VIA office and/or at the home of one of the VIA activists. In the summer we met outside. The work gets done more and more possible remotely. Many activists do their work from home. We also tried to enable this more and more, for example by moving our archive to Google-docs. Also we discussed possible changes in and website. Also we re-arranged the mailing list and revised the guidelines for online communication and decision making. On a more internal list all organization
4 matters are discussed and on a wider mailinglists summaries, announcements and interesting news are sent. At the same time this year the office space was used more than last year. Our placement officer Alex was at the office daily. We had a good cooperation with our co-renter Noticias. And we also used the office for activities for the refugee movement We Are Here. Projects and activities Citizens Beyond Walls In 2014 VIA participated in the project Citizens Beyond Walls, which took place from November 2013 until March Citizens Beyond Walls (CBW) was initiated by SCI Italy and funded by the European Commission's Europe For Citizens program. In the framework of the European Year of Citizens, the aim of the project is fostering inclusive policies to respect Citizens rights in Europe, with specific focus on new citizens and minorities. Participants to the project were: SCI Italy, VIA Netherlands, Utilapu Hungaria, VCV Serbia, SCI Germany, SCI Catalunya, CVS Bulgaria, SCI Hellas and Associazione 21 Luglio (research supervisor). Each partner branch had the task to conduct a thorough research on the extreme right movement in their respective territories while at the same time identifying non-violent and practical ways to counter it. Next to this, 8 Peace Weeks were organised by the branches where volunteers were presented with research outcomes and offered the opportunity and tools to become activist themselves. The participants have had several opportunities to come together, discuss strategies and to learn about the topic. In December 2013, there was a prep-meeting in Berlin. In March 2014, SCI Hellas organised the seminar 'Racism v. Peace' in Athens. In April 2014 camp coordinators received a training for the Peace Week in Sofia. In May 2014 there was a mini-training on work camp coordination in Rome. The final event, where the project was presented to the public, took place in March 2015, also in Rome. VIA Netherlands was represented on all these occasions. The research in The Netherlands was conducted by Alexandra van de Pol (main researcher and research coordinator), Anoek Letschert and Louisa Schreij. They have conducted interviews with Willem Wagenaar (Anne Frank Stichting), Rene Danen (Nederland Bekent Kleur), Mariem Ihattaren (Mocro's be like...born here) and El Mouthena (We Are Here). Furthermore, VIA attended the annual demonstration against racism in Amsterdam in 2014, where they distributed questionnaires to measure the effectiveness of demonstrations; and the art exhibition 'Rise of Populism in Europe', to get an idea of the effectiveness of art. One of the researchers attended in 2014 a seminar 'reacting
5 to extreme right hate speech online' in Budapest, to learn about online strategies. This research resulted in a 16 page report, which was - together with the other 7 country/regional reports - included in a book titled: 'Citizens Beyond Walls: a report about the right wing extremist groups'. There are 800 copies of the book (100 per country/region) and the intent is for every participating local branch to offer a free copy to their outgoing volunteers All chapters of the book can be consulted here: Introduction Day VIA 2014 The Introduction Day VIA 2014 took place on Saturday, 21 June at VIA s office in Amsterdam. This activity was attended by 8 outgoing volunteers, 3 people to be trained as a camp leaders and 6 VIA activists. The Programme included providing information about SCI, VIA and the workcamps; group dynamics activities; discussing fears, hopes and expectations; presentation of CBW project and technical and placement related questions. In parallel session camp leaders also received relevant training. The evaluation of the day was very positive. All the participants felt much more prepared and informed. The Peace Week (Citizens Beyond Walls) The Peace Week, an event organized by VIA, took place from the 7th of July 2014 until the 13th of July 2014 at ACU, in Utrecht. Ten participants coming from Spain, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy and The Netherlands took part in this project. During this week they were offered lectures and films, had a meeting with the members of We Are Here and undertook awareness by organizing activities within their group as well as in public. Program: Monday, 7 July: Welcome, Introduction- presentation of the PW, organization (breakfast, website, banner-common element of all peace weeks), Team building, Fears-hopes-expectations Awareness activity- Distribution of flyers around the city with T-Shirts that the participants created earlier spelling the phrase no discrimination Screening of Fascism the documentary
6 Tuesday, 8 July: Presentation of the CBW Research in the Netherlands (by Alexandra van de Pol) Lecture on International Law (by Alexandra van de Pol) Banner and photo Exhibition set up Screening Wednesday, 9 July: Discussion about right-wing extremism in each country Thursday, 10 July: Discussion: The role of the media Presentation of the movement of WE ARE HERE (by Lokien Holleman). Screening of the documentary on the movement WE ARE HERE with the presence of the director of the movie. Screening of short movies. Friday, 11 July: Discussion on No hate speech Game of life-definitions Small excursion with bikes at a lake outside Utrecht Saturday, 12 July: Discussion on Good practices Pub Quiz Project Evaluation Almelo Workcamp From 26 July to 9 August VIA organized a work camp in the Refugee Center in Almelo, The Netherlands. The goal was to organize two weeks of activities for the center s residents, especially for children, as well as to raise awareness among volunteers about the refugee issue. Ten volunteers signed up for the camp with ages ranged from 19 to 50 years. The volunteers came from Europe, specifically from: Spain (3), Hungary, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic (2), Switzerland and Turkey. This workcamp was a very positive experience for both volunteers and residents of the center. The volunteers formed a cohesive group and had the chance to know the life in the refugee camp, and the residents of the center truly appreciated and enjoyed the activities organized by VIA.
7 AZC Schalkhaar Stichting VIA organized from 27 July to 9 August a work camp in the Asylum Seekers Center (AZC) of Schalkhaar in the Netherlands. The aim was to bring together 10 volunteers, two camp leaders, and around children for everyday educational and entertaining activities. Another goal was to discuss among the volunteers about the situation of the asylum seekers in the Netherlands, as well as the whole Europe, as a study theme. The group consisted of 10 volunteers, between 19 and 33 years old. Motivation, inventiveness and ability to work with children did not depend on the age of the participant. Every day in the morning in the first hour language courses (English, Dutch, and Spanish) were organized, followed by dancing lessons in the second hour, and outdoor activities for the younger kids. In the afternoon, three activities were organized with two volunteers coordinating each activity. Additionally, there was a team for outdoor activities and games, and every day two people were responsible for the youngest kids (to look after them, bring them water, etc).
8 Refugees VIA has been involved in the refugee and migration issues for many years. Also this year we organised again two projects in Asylum seeker centers, where activities for refugee children were organised and the study theme was related to the refugee topic. But next to specific VIA projects, VIA is also involved in several networks and groups around this theme. One of the main activities is to support the self-organized group of refugees without papers We Are Here, which is trying to raise awareness about the problem of the gap in the Dutch asylum policy since August They do this by not longer hiding for the authorities but to make themselves visible. By actions, demonstrations, media attention, arts and debates among other activities they try to inform the Dutch society with a lot of success. It becomes more and more clear that many people who ask asylum in The Netherlands are erroneously rejected and that the procedures to get a status are so bureaucratic and complex that most refugees simply don t make a change. And if their status is rejected but you cannot return to their country, for example because it is in war or the country doesn t give the required papers, The Netherlands puts them on the streets or in months long detention. Internationally The Netherlands was condemned by the European Committee of Social Rights, by the UN and by several human rights organizations. This was all initiated by the refugees of We Are Here. On VIA volunteer was intensively involved with the group during the whole year. VIA offered office space for meetings, especially around the international March for Freedom from Strassbourg to Brussels and the actionweek in Brussels. The first weeks of Alex, the placement officer, he also supported We Are Here, for example by joining meetings, arranging transportation, making materials like banners and flyers. Khaled (contact from Egypt) took part in the March for Refugee Rights from Amsterdam to The Hague and helped with the preparations for this march. During the Citizens Beyons Walls project one of the active refugees of the group was interviewed and during the workcamp in Utrecht the documentary This is not a prison of Marlijn Franken was shown. She was also present herself and after the film there was a Q&A and discussion. It was a special and emotional moment because exactly that week a big part of the group was put on the street again.
9 In addition to activities for We Are Here VIA also decided to participate in a project on this topic in Lesbos, along with several other branches and partners of SCI. VIA signed the partnership agreement for the application and hopes to carry out this project in MOCANA MOCANA stands for "Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa." VIA is involved with this region by: - Selecting, training and guiding Dutch volunteers who want to volunteer in the region - Volunteers from this region who want to come to The Netherlands - Providing information in the region - Strengthening international collaboration with both partners in the region and SCI branches that operate there Because of the Arab Spring, the Middle East has become often the center of attention At the same time, organizing volunteer projects in this region has become more and more difficult because of safety reasons. Therefore, the focus of the Mocana group shifted in recent years from sending volunteers to invite volunteers to The Netherlands, providing information and maintaining international contacts. Specifically, the group has this year taken the following activities: Incoming Program Each year, VIA participated in the "incoming program", in which active partners in Asia / Africa / Latin America / Middle East are invited to a program of two and a half months in Europe. Again this year we decided to invite someone from the Middle East together with the German branch: SCI-D. Unfortunately, the contact with the partner did not go well and eventually the program fell through this year. Contact branch for partners in the Middle East VIA was also this year a contact for a number of partners in the region, including Tent of Nations in Palestine, CSM in Morocco and Jafra in Syria. This usually means working together with the partners to ensure that all projects are presented in the SCI database in the right way and acting as contact point if there are questions from branches about the partner or from the partner about SCI or if there are problems with communication or issues during projects. In the case of Syria this is of course different. We mainly tried to keep in contact with our partner in Syria and to spread information inside SCI. Here is an example of a message from our partner in Syria.
10 Thank you so much for keeping in contact, even i am very bad at this i was in syria and specially at Yarmouk and i was stuck there for like 45 days. what is happening there is out of control and out of humanity till today105 people died from Hunger. the siege was so strict 5 days ago some food enter not enough but it gave some hope. we expect soon it will be open so we are preparing a big campaign to enter food and other materials. for jafra it is growing up we opened an office in Homs camp and we have a big team there and we opened recently another office in Jaramana camp and also they are doing a great job and in qudseia also we have a big center and school. otherwise one other volunteer was killed in the prison and another one was arrested recently and we have like some other from Yarmouk camp who are wanted. this is everything nearly in some lines. i am nwo in Lebanon blocked not allwoed to leave the contry i think in some days i will manage the permision. i will come to danemark and geneva in March for a speech about syria and our work. i realy apperciate your communication and i send greetings to all sci team all over the world. Best, Wesam Syrian refugees in Jordan In 2013 SCI decided to start a project in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. From VIA there were many volunteers interested on this project, and one of them was sent to these camps in 2014 with the support of the Mocana group. This volunteer worked for several months with children in refugee camps, along with Save the Children. Some of her stories can be found at her personal blog, In appendix xx an example. Contacts with Egypt A volunteer who we sent to long-term in 2013 to Egypt was active for some time for the MOCANA group and also invited people from our Egyptian partner in the Netherlands. In 2014 she moved to Egypt herself. Below a message we received from her. Wilde jullie ook al lang updaten over hoe het met mij is en wat me bezig houdt. Ook omdat ik natuurlijk via jullie hier terecht gekomen ben waar ik echt heel dankbaar om ben. :) Ik ben weer terug gegaan naar Alexandria waar ik nu mijn master afmaak en sinds mei bezig ben werk te ontwikkelen. Ik heb nog vier grotere workshops gegeven hier die ook allemaal onwijs gaaf waren. Ik heb besloten me te richten op empowerment van civil society professionals en vrouwen. Omdat daar de noodzaak het grootst is in mijn ogen. Ik heb nu een team van 5 deelnemers meegenomen als co-trainers. De meeste komen uit de eerste workshop in Een jongen is zo een natuur talent dat hij al eentje onafhankelijk kan werken (ben onwijs trots op deze mensen). Om dit alles te kunnen bekostigen (want ik kan van deze mensen echt niets vragen en ik heb een hekel aan eindeloos funding proposals schrijven - ken je misschien wel) doe ik er nu consultancy naast, als in wat ik vroeger deed in Nederland maar dan met wat meer ervaring.
11 Het is een onwijze leerschool en heel boeiend. Bizarre zakenwereld hier, het is best hart maar zie het als echt een boeiende uitdaging. Kom ook heel veel mooie mensen tegen. Also one of our contacts from Egypt came to the Netherlands for a music project. VIA invited him to stay for another week and he took part in the "March for Refugee Rights, see chapter on refugees. Developments in the group The Mocana group attracted in 2014 several new an/or people came back from a temporarily leave and there were around 5/6 people active. Unfortunately some left again (abroad or other activities) and also the fact that not many people were sent out to the region didn t help to keep the group alive. We decided this year not to participate in the annual North-South Platform Meeting in October and also to stop after this meeting with our international tasks for the group. Evaluation Day On Saturday, 21 June 2014 VIA hosted the Evaluation Day, in which 7 volunteers who attended projects in Russia, Serbia, Slovenia and Poland took part. During the sessions they shared experiences and pictures, and VIA evaluated their projects against common SCI standards but also on personal level what did they gain and why. VIA s activists reflected back on fears, hopes and expectations and presented possibilities of getting active in VIA and received feedback on volunteers interests.
12 Public Relationships Website & Communications VIA worked in 2014 on the communications focusing primarily on better website management in order to be better accessible via the internet. The website traffic was monitored as well as advertisements were placed on different search engines and other portals for advertising volunteering work through VIA. Liberation Day Stichting VIA joined the Liberation Day Celebrations on the 5th of May with a stand at the infomarket in Westerpark, Amsterdam. Three volunteers occupied the stand in which VIA presented a collection of books, flyers and posters. Workshops and informative sessions were held at a stand located close to the main stage, which had a positive effect on VIA s visibility. Volunteer Placements Placement Officer 2014 Regularly VIA invites an international long-term volunteer (LTV) to work as a placement officer (PO) to arrange the placements of volunteers on the different projects. This concerns both placments of international volunteers on Dutch projects and of Dutch volunteers on projects abroad. During two years VIA did not invite an international PO for practical reasons but to have the placements done by a Dutch volunteer. This year, however, we decided to go for an international PO again. This year it was Alex from Spain, who came through the Leonardo program to The Netherlands. A PO from abroad brings additional work for VIA, like organizing a welcome, introduce the PO to the work and show the country and Amsterdam, arrange a place to live and also this year obligated things like offering Dutch classes and evaluation (requested by Leonardo program). But it also has its advantages. Of course having someone available to do the placements, but maybe more important: it is an international exchange in itself, so a part of the core work of VIA. A new person with fresh ideas also brings new energy and views. The welcome of Alex took place on the living-boat of an old VIA activist, where many people from or around VIA joined the evening. Alex turned out to be very independent and he quickly found his way. He worked daily a few hours at the office and besides that he took part in other VIA activities, like meetings, newsletter, etc. He learned how the placements work during the Placement Officer Training in Serbia. Because Alex s program already started before the placements came in, the first months he took up other tasks, like actions for We Are Here (see chapter about refugees) and PR.
13 Placements 2014 overview In 2013 VIA sent 37 volunteers to work on projects abroad, from which 18 were men and 19 were women. They were sent to various countries both within Europe and out of Europe. As for the incoming volunteers, VIA received 33 volunteers, from which 10 were men and 13 were women. Statistics Incoming: Gender male female total Age children over 65 total Employment status students employed unemployed other unknown total Country of origin of incoming volunteers: Spain 7 Turkey 1 Italy 2 Moldovia 1 Hungary 2 Germany 2 Finland 1 Belarus 1 Serbia 4 Albania 1 Czech Republic 1 Russia 1 UK 1 Poland 1 Switzerland 1
14 Outgoing: Gender male female Total Age children over 65 total Employment status students employed unemployed other unknown total
15 International: Service Civil International (SCI) SCI Placement Officer Training VIA s Placement Officer attended the SCI Placement Officer Training in Serbia (3-7 March 2014), with all travel costs covered by VIA. In this training they could learn about SCI and technical information on placements and SCI Practical Procedures of exchanges as well as on usage of the Online Placement Systems. All this was crucial for them to perform their tasks. Exchange Evaluation Meeting In October (21-26) in Izmir Turkey the yearly international meeting of SCI took place EEM Exchange Evaluation Meeting. VIA sent two participants branch coordinator and new activist in order to introduce her to the movement. Participants from all over the word joined and for a week we shared experiences, discussed best and bad practices and took decisions for the next placements seasons.
16 International Committee Meeting ICM 2014 Every year an International Committee Meeting takes place, attended by SCI branches from all over the world. In 2014 this meeting was hosted by VCV Serbia Serbian branch of SCI. During this meeting key strategic decisions are made for the whole movement, so it is crucial that experience activists/ board members of branches join. None of the experience VIA activists could join ICM in 2014, but we decided to give a proxy. We gave a proxy to Katarina Stoyanova, a Board member of Bulgarian branch, who in 2014 was staying in the Netherlands. Her temporary stay in the Netherlands made it possible to meet live and discus the proxy. We have formed a Preparation Team in VIA consisting of three experienced VIA Board Members. We divided the preparation for the meeting and then together we discussed our position on different issues that were on the meeting s agenda. As a next step, we met with Katerina and explained to her VIA s stand and decision. We had a great communication and understanding with Katerina and felt very well represented by her. It was a great experience to participate in ICM in this way, also due to the fact that SCI International arranged for a live stream of the meeting. This way we could follow the meeting and adjust our votes. Participating in international groups As a result of this meeting a new international Working Group was formed in SCI BEES: Better Exchange and Evaluation Support. This group is aimed at facilitating projects in Europe, to raise awareness of our activities and to coordinate between branches and partners of SCI. One of VIA activists joined this group as the Chairwoman. This is one of the ways in which VIA contributes to SCI internationally.
17 Finances VIA has no governmental grants. VIA s projects and activities are paid from project grants, registration fees paid by outgoing volunteers and donations. VIA tries to keep the overhead as low as possible, for example by working only with volunteers and sharing the office with other renters. VIA has a treasures and every year the books are checked by two people. The financial report can be found on Appendix #1.
18 APPENDIX 1: FINANCIAL REPORT Overview VIA s financial target for 2014 was to have a balance of euros and ensure optimal use of costs / resources. The final balance was twice as much. Own Capital / Balance / Activa / Passiva The aciva / passive of VIA does not indicate any major risks. There is some money owned and being owned to VIA but regarding the amount available in bank accounts, this is not major. In 2012 a smaller amount is allocated in Funds and is gone back to the main account. Income / Expenses VIA s major income source was the European Funded project Citizens Beyond walls. The funding for this was to fulfil the project needs (research, peace week). In total the project did not have a positive financial outcome on VIA but it was an important experience for VIA, expanding in a new domain. The project was funded by the Europe for Citizens project
19 Below a breakdown cost for the project Summary & Budget 2015 Based on the previous experience, the budget was also drafted for next year. In this year s budget, VIA expects a negative balance of 2100 Euros. With this VIA expects to boost PR activities and increase the man power. This will mean spending more for expenses and declarations of volunteer work for new volunteer staff but this would enable building the right foundation and team for the future. Category 2014b 2014a 2015b General / Administration , PR Communication , Donations , Outgoing , Various , International Trips , Workcamps NL ,20 0 Projects Exchange EVS 0 Activities 0 Projects Exchange -500 Projects -306, Balance ,
20 APPENDIX 2: Report of Elin from Syrian refugee camp in Jordan Sterren (deel 3) Geplaatst op 25 april 2014 door Elin Alleen in de duisternis kun je sterren zien Dat deze kinderen duisternis hebben gezien, hoeft niet uitgelegd te worden. Misschien dat ze daardoor zo kunnen stralen! Inmiddels zijn mijn jongens volleerde acteurs geworden. Er zijn meerdere optredens achter de rug en ze doen het fantastisch! Vorige week zijn we in de school begonnen, optreden voor hun klasgenootjes. Aangezien de jongens niet allemaal in dezelfde klas zitten, betekende dat vier keer optreden. Elke keer voor twee klassen, oftewel een groep van zo n 100 kids. De optredens zouden pas s middags beginnen, in de ochtend hebben namelijk de meiden les en zijn de jongens verder niet op school, maar de eerste ster was om half tien present. Met broertje. Hoezo gemotiveerd en gedreven? En ook de anderen kwamen een voor een heerlijk op tijd binnendruppelen, nog meer broertjes mee, iedereen was blijkbaar opgetrommeld. Maar goed, eerst voetballen / volleyballen / trefballen, wat een grote heerlijke chaos werd met zoveel kids in een daarvoor te kleine ruimte en daarna nog een keer repeteren met broertjes als publiek. En dan inderdaad klaarmaken. De eerste klassen werden opgehaald en er ontstaan enige zenuwen: Kabir, kabir!, met armen wijd uitgespreid staat een van de jongens voor mij, het aantal kinderen is groot, zoveel kids had hij niet verwacht. Samen met mijn collega s spreken we ze toe. We zijn trots op ze, ze zijn ontzettend gegroeid en hebben iets moois voor elkaar gekregen! Er wordt nog een keer diep adem gehaald, we staan in een cirkel, handen op elkaar in het midden, tellen tot drie en eindigen met een harde JEEEEJJJJ. Yalla, yalla, let s go!