How to become a volunteer in Angola, Cambodia or Turkey
People in Need offers new job opportunities for volunteers in the relief & development sector across the world. We happen to be one of the first organisations in Europe to join the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. Petra Weissova who is responsible for the coordination of this project within People in Need told us more…
Could you tell us what the EU Aid Volunteers project basically means?
It is a great initiative of the European Commission based on similar projects existing throughout the world. European Commission decided to create its own initiative and send out volunteers to the developing countries. The primary objective is to support the humanitarian and development aid in the world. For such activities qualified specialists are needed, equipped with necessary knowledge and experience, who could later in case of natural disasters or humanitarian crises immediately provide aid in the afflicted regions.
How does this program differ from other government or institutional programs?
The European Commission organizes this initiative through various European non-governmental organisations which have to pass through a complicated certification process so as to be allowed to send out volunteers under the same conditions. That means that it makes hardly any difference for the volunteer if he or she chooses an Italian, British, Irish or Czech sending organisation. The only condition is a citizenship in an EU country, or at least a long-term residence.
PIN is looking for four volunteers for the missions in Angola, Cambodia and Turkey. What kind of work will it be?
In the first round we chose four positions according to the needs of the particular missions. For Angola we are looking for somebody to support the local logistic team. This should be somebody who understands logistics, who likes organizing things and has some previous experience with it already. At the same time this person could help to build up the capacities of the team, and this not only from the organisational but from the technical and administrative aspect as well. For Cambodia we need a program assistant who would help our colleagues with the ongoing programs, with researching, processing the statistics and helping out with writing the final reports. It’s actually a general program support, an ideal opportunity for somebody who would like to get into this sector. Then there are two positions in Turkey – a financial one to support the mission in the financial management and another one for HR, focused on the human resources management and for implementation of new processes.
What requirements should the applicant meet?
Minimum age of 18, maximum is not given. As far as the other requirements are concerned, the Commission divides the applicants for junior and senior volunteers. The junior is somebody with up to five years of relevant experience. The senior is everybody with more than five years of professional experience. The main idea is that next to the students, graduates, and people interested in the humanitarian sector, the EU Aid Volunteers program is directed at people who are considering a career change. People who would want to try a completely different field of work, or who would simply like to get into the non-profit sector. Then they count on the slightly older experts, too, who might want to try out working abroad for a year. All in all, it really is open to a wide range of people.
Five years of experience, that is quite demanding, and it could be a considerable obstacle for example for students...
In the junior positions it is up to five years which means that the applicant can have from zero to five years of experience. For example in Turkey we require up to two years of experience which one certainly can manage while studying. I really would like to stress, however, that whatever can be done by local employees we always leave to them. That is a strategy of ours that concerns all recruitment processes. The senior team in PIN, put together from people from abroad, manages primarily the discrete programs and the rest of the employees. Our priority is the development and support of the local people. Which means that we will never send drivers from abroad, because that is the kind of job that somebody local can do very easily. We don’t want to rid the local inhabitants of their job opportunities. Besides, we always look into specific agenda of every team. Therefore everything that we list in the requirements for that position mirrors exactly the actual needs of the mission.
The EU Aid Volunteers initiative focuses most of all on the humanitarian aid that, however, is often most needed in the countries with some ongoing conflicts. Are any of those above mentioned countries dangerous?
Within the frame of this initiative the European Commission will annually publish a list of countries where it is possible to send out the volunteers. Which means that even though the main objective is to raise the capacities of the humanitarian sector we are speaking more of the regions with humanitarian crises rather than with armed conflicts. Some countries where PIN does work, like Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria or South Sudan, will most likely never appear on the list. Both Angola and Cambodia are relatively trouble-free countries. Turkey is a bit questionable at the moment; nonetheless, our volunteer would only stay in the city. And of course, we as an organization have a set of our own security processes to make sure all our employees are safe.
What will the recruitment process look like?
The call for applicants is open; whoever is interested can apply now. In September the selection procedure will start, which means we will address the particular applicants. In this phase of the process the representatives of the missions will take part as well. The successful applicant will become a member of a team where he or she should fit as well as possible. Two best candidates for a position will then complete a so-called assessment centrum – a group selection process that will take place in one of the training centres in Austria, Italia or in Britain, under the patronage of the European Commission. The chosen volunteer will then undergo our standard training as well, just like all our prospective team members do before their departure. That includes internal training, e-learning courses, vaccination, safety training and such.
What exactly will be provided for the volunteer chosen to work with us through EU Aid Volunteers?
All trainings, medical check-up before the departure, flying tickets, insurance and accommodation. In those twelve months, the whole duration of the project, that is, they will receive a subsistence allowance from which they are supposed to provide their meals, for example. The amount is decided on centrally by the European Commission.
Should the applicant be not successful in this selection process can he or she apply again in the future?
Certainly. The EU Aid Volunteers initiative preliminarily counts with the timeframe until the year 2020 which means that the project will be running at least for a few more years. The humanitarian department of People in Need was granted the certification for three missions so far – Angola, Cambodia and Turkey. We want to obtain the certification for at least three more missions, however – Georgia, Philippines and Myanmar. We will see how it goes; this is our plan, however, and we are working on it.
Are there any other options how to join a PIN mission as a volunteer?
Yes. This initiative is merely one of the options. Generally we have volunteers and interns – an intern is basically an entry position for us, aimed really at the university students in their final year. This is usually a non-paid internship in Prague for the duration of at least six months; if both sides are satisfied then we can talk about other options. As far as the missions abroad are concerned, we usually require some knowledge of the particular country and some relevant experience – which means it is a bit more demanding for the applicant. Whoever is interested can visit our webpage with the list of current job vacancies.