Welcome to the SCI January e-zine!

To all of you: a very happy, productive and peaceful new year filled with volunteering activities! We start this year with a new e-zine, containing news from the last couple of months of 2011. We intended to send this e-zine out at the end of 2011, but due to some technicalities combined with holidays of staff and LTV at the International Secretariat it was not possible. Please accept our apologies for the delay and enjoy reading!  







SAVA WORKING GROUP: Promoting Cooperation between SCI Branches and Partners in the Balkans






The 71st SCI International Committee Meeting (ICM) took place from 8 to 11 December 2011 in Belgium. Four days of intense discussions, workshops and sharing of ideas in the hilly countryside of Namur in the Wallon region of Belgium, have brought some news to the SCI world.

SCI welcomes three new `groups` to its ever growing SCI network: SCI Hong Kong, CID Macedonia and Bridges of Peace (Jordan) are now officially part of the worldwide SCI `family´. We wish them all the best in their future activities, and thank them for their contributions to SCI’s mission of building a culture of peace!

The ICM 2011 also saw the departure of three members of the International Executive Committee (IEC). We are grateful to Low Kok Chang (SCI Malaysia), Stephen Nah (SCI Malaysia) and Heinz Gabathuler (SCI Switzerland) for their hard work and dedication to SCI over the past years. A new IEC member was elected with a large majority of votes, Matteo Testino (SCI Italy), and Paolo Pagano (SCI Italy) is now SCI vice-president.

ICM 2011 was a good, productive and pleasant meeting for all delegates and observers present. Decisions were made, proposals approved and new plans, ideas and initiatives were discussed, both formally and informally in between the meeting sessions. The ICM was also an opportunity to see old friends again, and meet new ones. Participants expressed their gratitude to the hosting branch SCI-Belgium for a job well done.

Next ICM (2012) will take place in Malaysia, hosted by SCI Malaysia.

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SCI`s history as a volunteering organisation for peace started more than 90 years ago. To document its long past SCI established the SCI international archives back in the seventies.

The archives are situated in the town library of La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland). In more than 700 archive boxes (with photos, files, written documents, books, …), around 80 years of history as international peace organisation is conserved.

Since 1998 Philipp Rodriguez has been taking care of the archives. After 12 years of service the role of International Archives coordinator has now been handed over to Heinz Gabathuler, whose term as treasurer of the International Executive Committee of SCI has finished in December 2011. Philipp will remain active on-line and take care of the International Archives website.

Many thanks to Philipp and a big welcome to Heinz!

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“Forget fists, forge voices” training, 12-20 November 2011, Germany*

Before joining the last training of the NO MORE WAR team, I had some knowledge on street actions, gathered mostly in Greece by going to “Real Democracia Ya” gatherings and during massive street demonstrations that were happening quit often (sometimes we were loathing that there was not a week without a demonstration). I was very interested in knowing more on how to organize such actions since it seemed to be a powerful tool to empower people and raise awareness. So I joined the team of participants, 24 people coming from 3 different continents and 18 different nations (including Togo, Nigeria, Indonesia and Sri Lanka).

What was it about?
Well, you could see it as a big pot of subjects, all well mixed up that got into you somehow. We discussed about violence, how to get public attention, we practiced consensus, physical expression, learned and planned a street action and what fallows after (publicity and promotion), we shared experiences on street actions, legal matters, emotions, thoughts and not only. The week concluded with a street action in Göttingen. Having in our mind peace, we wanted to contribute in breaking stereotypes. So, we made a short theater scene, we gave flyers and wrote posters, we spoke with people and made them think about what they can do for peace.

What will I bring back home?
Knowledge, experience, beautiful friends and like-minded people, good times and memories. When I look back at it, it was a week for personal changes and challenges.

So, how all these things happen? That’s something to discover yourself but once you’ll get in, you’ll get closer to freedom, but only if you dare.

By Mihaela DOBROIU

*The training was organized with the financial support of the Youth for Europe program by the No More War group of SCI, a group that believes that a pacifist world is possible and wants to show it to others through workcamps, trainings and other projects. Check them on their official website.

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Stories to move people to take action, to advocate for change, to build together a society where right of asylum is respected

Between February and July 2011 SCI-Italy saw the realisation of one of its most interesting projects about migrations and its social awareness. The project, titled “Through desert and sea”, was organised in partnership with the Italian multimedia agency AmisNet and the Israeli organization Active Vision.

The Mediterranean area: migrations and marginalization
As we know, every day thousands of people are trying to migrate around and across the Mediterranean, many of them are refugees, fleeing from war, poverty, persecution. Despite the international laws regarding the right of asylum, too often they are facing racism and xenophobia by hosting communities. Rejection leads to marginalization and isolation that are often the conditions refugees live in metropolitan areas such as Rome and Tel Aviv - the chosen locations of the project. In Italy and Israel, on the mainstream media, large numbers of refugees crossing the border have been predominantly portrayed as a threatening social phenomenon.
Gathering stories on the way from Greece to Italy, from Egypt to Israel
The project has represented an innovative action aimed at changing the situation hereby described. The tools have been audiovisual media in order to raise awareness on immigrants' situation, and to shed light on their journeys, histories, lives. A team of media experts, after an initial phase of preparation and coordination with immigrants' communities and local NGOs, has searched and documented histories of refugees who are fleeing from Africa and Asia. They focused on two major migration routes, the Sinai desert between Egypt-Israel and the harbor of Patras between Greece-Italy.In both cases documentation included interviews with those who are about to cross (in Egypt and Greece) and with those who have already arrived to destination (in Italy and Israel).

Videos and photos to bring closer hosting societies and refugees
Out of this intensive work, media experts produced audiovisual documentaries available to be watched on the
desert and sea website: short films, two photo galleries, radio documentary, and an innovative multimedia documentary combined of the radio documentary and a photo gallery.

The multimedia materials are being disseminated to improve knowledge on refugees' conditions, cultures, stories and to raise awareness on reasons for leaving their country, to bridge gaps between refugees and the hosting society.

More info are available in the official website of the project.

SCI Italy

Kebedom walking alongside the Israeli-Egyptian barbed wire border from the Israeli side, in the south of Israel. (© ACTIVESTILLS)


Kebedom sitting on a sanded hill overlooking the walls of the “Saharonim” detention camp where hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers are being held in the Negev, south of Israel.


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SAVA WORKING GROUP: Promoting Cooperation between SCI Branches and Partners in the Balkans

In late October the SAVA Working Group* met in Pristina, Kosovo. The gathering offered everything that contributes to a successful meeting: good fun, long working hours, well-prepared food, hot coffee and unanimous decisions. With representatives of organisations from almost all countries in the Balkans, the meeting aimed to review the evolution of SAVA partners and potential partners.

GAIA Kosovo: a new (very active) partner
After a visit in the village of Plementina where GAIA Kosovo’s activities mainly take place, SAVA members voted in favour of this interethnic volunteering organization to become a SAVA partner. This is the latest success of the Working Group: it has supported the new volunteering organisation in Kosovo, which has been very active over the last year with all sorts of activities from workcamps to cultural inclusion projects in particular with the Roma community. Moreover, CID Macedonia received support from SAVA to apply as an SCI branch.
Focusing on Inclusion in 2012
The SAVA annual meeting also allowed coordinating and aligning activities among members and partners so as to have a greater impact in the Balkans. SAVA will organise specially promoted workcamps to foster regional exchange among volunteers in the Balkans. This will be supported through the SAVA Travel Fund.
Moreover, SAVA decided to declare “inclusion” as regional focus for the year 2012. All SAVA partners and members are therefore asked to put efforts into sending out and receiving volunteers to and from other countries in the region as well as offering minorities and people with lesser opportunities the possibility to volunteer. In order to support innovative small volunteering projects in 2012, SAVA has also created a Small Project Fund. With those efforts, the SAVA Working Group wants to contribute to strengthen SCI-values and volunteerism throughout the region.
On behalf of SAVA coordinators Team

Contact and applications to funds: savawg@yahoo.com, sava_sciwg@googlegroups.com

* SAVA is the SCI South-Eastern Europe Working Group, it coordinates SCI activities in South-Eastern Europe, mainly in the Balkan region. It was formed in 1992 during the wars and conflicts that took place in this region. SAVA’s mission is to develop peace values, intercultural understanding, acceptance and environmental awareness through promoting volunteerism and empowerment of individuals and communities of the Balkans.




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Delegates from 13 countries gathered in november for the bi-annual meeting of the Youth Unemployment Working Group (YUWG)* of SCI. The 30 delegates included volunteers and staff members of the various member organisations of YUWG as well as, for the first time, delegates from CID Macedonia and VCV Serbia who will enter a period of cooperation with YUWG for the coming year.

An “intense” meeting
The meeting, which followed a new format to allow for maximum creativity and input from delegates, covered a number of elements including the technical matters of YUWG (Steering Group elections and finances), evaluations of the 2011 activities, inputs and workshops to help delegates improve their work in the area of social inclusion, and in-depth strategic planning workshops to identity core priorities and issues for YUWG in the coming year.

For the second year running, YUWG has given priority to the evaluation of YUWG Youth Exchanges, by inviting youth exchange leaders to a specific evaluation event where they could identify the strengths and weaknesses of the projects and make suggestions for improvement. This also galvanises volunteers to become more active within YUWG outside of the Youth Exchanges, and gives a valuable perspective in the evaluation process.

Discussing about YUWG mission and SCI strategic plan
With the launching of the new SCI strategic plan (SP), it was also felt that it was important to prioritise SP within YUWG, and sessions were dedicated to reviewing the SCI SP and devising priorities for the following year. Using creative and participatory methodologies, the group went through a 4-stage cycle of discovering, dreaming, designing and delivering the issues that they felt were working for YUWG, and how these could be built on. As a result of this process, three key areas were identified to develop in 2012. These included among others, internal and external communications, inclusion of the target group in decision making and organisation and follow-up. These areas were further expanded on and will be followed up by the SG, YUWG members and activists and at the Spring Meeting which will take place in Ireland.

The group also had the opportunity to review the Mission of YUWG and there were workshops on conflict resolution, active reviewing, identifying the target group of YUWG and many other topics throughout the week. The discussions led to decisions being made about the structure of YUWG activities, and from 2012, there will be only one coordination meeting in Spring for those responsible for organising YUWG activities in their organisation and for technical matters, while the Autumn Meeting will be replaced by an evaluation and follow-up seminar for youth leaders and active volunteers. YUWG also welcomed IVS GB and De Amicitia as formal members following a period of cooperation.

All in all, it was a very dynamic and productive meeting, and the combination of grassroots activists, those working in the office, and the new members from the Balkans has re-energised and reinvigorated the WG with lots of new ideas and fresh direction.

Grace Walsh
YUWG Steering Group Coordinator


* YUWG is a platform for activists working with and for young people with fewer opportunities. The group was established in 1985 and aims to provide the possibility of European contact and exchanges for young people affected by unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. The current member organisations are VSI Ireland, SCI Catalunya, VIA Belgium, SCI France Region Nord, SCI Italy, CVS Bulgaria, Utilapu Hungary, ZAVOD Voluntariat Slovenia, De Amicitia Spain and IVS GB and SCI Hellas, with cooperation with CID Macedonia and VCV Serbia. For more information contact your local working group or the YUWG Steering Group Coordinator – grace@vsi.ie.

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SCI Korea volunteers are always very active in short volunteering activities (one day or a weekend):

The last weekend of November they gathered to make Kimchi (a traditional food) for the children of a local orphanage. The Kimchi is a traditional staple food made of cabbage leaves stuffed with spices and sliced vegetables, and a lot of onions, with much delight of the volunteers who where chopping them all day and had watery eyes for hours!
Moreover, in the city of Busan they organized a Green Walk in the Kumjeonggu park as a way to promote SCI and its values.

Many thanks to SCI Korea for the nice pictues!



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This e-zine has been funded with support from the 'Europe for Citizens' programme of the European Commission. It reflects the views of the author only and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.