Advanced Volunteer Management Training

On the 16th and the 17th of January 2020, Caritas India organised an Advanced Volunteer Management Training in Pune, Maharashtra. The training was part of the European-Asian partnership for building capacities in Humanitarian Action II (PEACH-2) programme. The PEACH-II project envisages to contribute to the organizational and technical capacities of Caritas member organizations in Asia to widen their effectiveness and efficiency in humanitarian aid and volunteer management. The training was facilitated by Caritas India for its partners from Vasai, Kalyan, Khadki, Rajkot and Goa. A total of 27 participants attended the training. The overall objective of the training was to inculcate an understanding of the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Humanitarian Aid discourse, inspire a culture of volunteerism and initiating volunteer mobilisation and retention policy in their own operational areas. The participants were informed on the necessities, and capacitated with the skills, to prepare them for when Caritas India requests for any humanitarian intervention in their respective areas of operation.

The training was attended by promising people, whose works have displayed manifestation of the principles of the joy of service. The training was designed in a manner that could be easily grasped by every participant. The sessions were interactive, inclusive, activity-based, with case studies, focussed group discussion, role plays and exercises.

Sessions on volunteerism presented to the participants the history of volunteerism, the role of volunteers, their rights and obligations, and Caritas India’s history of volunteer engagement in its various programmes like DRR, Anti-Human Trafficking, Dialogue with Nature and its various administrative works. The session on disasters and humanitarian aid was a foundation course for the participants. The session brought to the India’s vulnerability to multi-hazards, the jargons of the sector – concepts and terminologies, recurrent disasters and their scale of destruction, the institutionalised DM cycle, Humanitarian Aid and its Principles, Core Humanitarian Standards and most importantly a recognition of the main actors in a humanitarian crisis – the Communities. The participants were apprised of their crucial role in humanitarian action, with focus on their role in conducting a sound needs assessment which is vital for a successful humanitarian intervention.

The technical sessions were supplemented by activity-based sessions to encourage participation from all the trainees. Case studies and group discussions were structured to reveal individual skills and teamwork capabilities which are essential in any humanitarian work. Further, the supplementary activities aided the trainees to grasp the four humanitarian principles – Humanity, Impartiality, Independence and Neutrality. The presentations at the end of the group case study exercise reflected their accountability and quality as per the nine commitments of the Core Humanitarian Standards. During the needs assessment session, the participants were introduced to the concept of Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D), which is an innovative initiative to use information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and significantly reduce the challenges of information management.

The session helped the participants understand that during and after a disaster situation, it is essential for the affected communities, agencies and governments planning the response mechanism to prioritise understanding of who is in need of relief, where they are located, what is their immediate need, which agencies can supply the relief materials, identifying safe routes, and centres for relief material distribution, etc. This technical session was very important since the absence of proper channels to gather information in a timely manner, poor management of the information gathered, and poor communication have often caused inefficient relief and response work.

Acknowledging the increasing demand for skilled human resource during the needs assessment phase, for an inclusive analysis of the situation and identify the most pressing needs, the trainees were introduced to KoBoToolbox – a suite of tools for collecting data from challenging environments. The trainees were divided into a group of three and three individuals from each group were oriented to operate the application. The exercise with the KoBo App gave an opportunity for the trainees to introspect, self-assess their approach while interacting with their group and deepen their understanding of the four principles and the nine commitments.

Overall, the two days of training was productive and exciting for the participants as well as for the trainers themselves. The trainers had come prepared to conduct the training and the participants had carried with them their rich experience. It was a mutual learning experience. The value addition brought by the proactive participation of the trainees was inspiring to witness. While across the globe, depressing incidents from social injustice to the ecological crisis is saturating the atmosphere with pitch-black negative energy, the enthusiasm and positivity throughout the training was uplifting and it seeded hope.