Service Civil International

photo of SCI volunteersSince 2004 CVS-Bulgaria has been a branch of Service Civil International (SCI), a volunteer organisation dedicated to promoting a culture of peace by organizing international voluntary projects for people of all ages and backgrounds. The movement started after the First World War when in 1920 a group of volunteers gathered to reconstruct a war-torn village on the French-German border. Within SCI international voluntary projects are seen as a tool for creating intercultural understanding and solidarity between people of different backgrounds. The organization is now active all over the world, offering volunteer projects on various topics, including reconstruction, ecology, social inclusion, North-South solidarity and more.

One of the main activities within SCI are workcamps. We believe that living and working together with people of different backgrounds helps volunteers break down barriers and prejudices. It allows them to experience a world of mutual respect and understanding. In this sense, volunteering can be seen as a way of life a demonstration of the possible reality of a peaceful and cooperative world.

Visit the website of Service Civil International

CVS-Bulgaria is a member of two working groups within SCI.

SAVA:  Cooperation on the Balkans

SAVA stands for Solidarity through action and voluntary activities and is the SCI International working group dealing with the exchange with South East Europe. The mission of the working group is to develop peace values, intercultural understanding, acceptance and environmental awareness through promoting volunteerism and empowerment of individuals and communities related to Balkans. SAVA’s strategic goal is to promote volunteerism and its value for a peaceful world.

Balkan MapSince the outbreak of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia in 1991, SCI International has sent over a thousand volunteers to the region. The majority of these volunteers were involved on a short-term basis and worked in the main with refugees from Bosnia and Croatia. There have also been significant numbers of long-term volunteers, some of whom went initially with SCI and returned later with other organizations to avail of longer term opportunities. SAVA was born in 1996 and operated as informal working group. There were a lot of projects and activities done jointly during the years and finally in 2000 SAVA applied for the first time to be an official working group within this structure.

The situation in much different, with SCI branches in Serbia (VCV), Croatia (VCZ), Slovenia (SCI Voluntariat), Albania (PVN) and Bulgaria (CVS – Bulgaria), as well as good partners in Montenegro (ADP ZiD), Macedonia (CID). The latest success has been the foundation of a new active volunteering group in Kosovo, GAIA Kosovo, which has become a partner in 2011. The war is over, but we still deal with a post-conflict situation in some parts of the region. We believe that in most parts normal life has taken over again and volunteers don’t need to have any special preparation any more to come to the region. Currently both many volunteers are going to the Balkan region, but also from the Balkan region to other SCI branches. SAVA believes that its work has indirectly promoted the idea of volunteerism in the region and activated people. Yet, it is still very important to promote the ideas of SCI within the whole region.

YUWG:  Social inclusion of youngsters with fewer opportunities

Youth Unemployment Working Group is a group within SCI that works on the inclusion of young people with fewer opportunities from various European countries. Its target group is youngsters aged 16 to 30 years old with a disadvantaged background. For every country “disadvantaged” has a different meaning in terms of social, economical, geographical, ethnic, religious background, etc.

There are organizations from 10 European countries involved in the YUWG activities (Ireland, Great Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Greece). The group organizes each year bi- and multi-lateral youth exchanges and individual EVS projects involving young people from the members’ countries.

The name of the group may be a little confusing, because we don’t target only unemployed participants. When the working group started in 1984, unemployment among young people was a serious issue in the members’ countries. At the moment, we use the term ‘fewer opportunities’ because there are many ways in which some young people can be less well off or privileged than others.

Read more about YUWG here.