Volunteerism should be at the heart of Caritas: PEACH Advanced Volunteer Management Training Program

By working as a volunteer, you express your solidarity with the underprivileged and you become a member of the community of the people and organizations helping most in need. However, your will and enthusiasm to help will not be enough. To become a valuable volunteer, able to support the team of the humanitarian organization, certain knowledge and skills are necessary and expected. Investing in the training of managing volunteers is also an essential element in preparing competent volunteers. Caritas Asia along with Caritas Austria conducted the Advanced Volunteer Management Training Program on 18th – 20th January 2019 at Saint Gabriel Foundation, Bangkok. The participants comprised Volunteer coordinators and PEACH program officers of Caritas India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines. This event was one of the TOTs under the European-Asian Partnership for Capacity building on Humanitarian action (PEACH). The envisaged goal of the PEACH-2 project is to contribute to the organizational and technical capacities of Caritas organizations in Asia to widen their effectiveness and efficiency in humanitarian aid and volunteer management. In the first instalment of the project basic trainings on Volunteer Management, Core Humanitarian Standards, Sphere Standards and Cash Transfer programme was delivered and then re-echoed nationally in the member’s countries.

The training was designed with the objective to explore the motivation for volunteering from an organizational perspective and consolidate the internal support for volunteer management, to stimulate reflection on the level of organizational preparedness for volunteer involvement and inspire improvement, to develop scenarios for sustainable volunteer involvement, to facilitate the exchange on the structures, policies and tools for volunteer management.

The training began with the participants discussing on who can be considered as a volunteer by discussing multiple case studies from different Asian countries. Based on the facilitated discussion conclusion was made that a volunteer is someone who works with free will, does not expect financial benefit and works for public health or benefit for others. The participants were also made to reflect on according to the key elements of the organisation on the same trainer concluded that a key element for successful volunteer management and for sustainable volunteer involvement is having volunteering as a core value of the organization – this is reflected also in the attitude of the leadership and top management towards volunteering. Participants were divided into their country groups wherein each country presented the activities undertaken by their organisations in developing and managing volunteers. Caritas India too presented the initiatives and activities conducted to prepare the organisation for involving volunteers, recruitment of volunteers, induction, and training of volunteers, motivating, monitoring the work done by the volunteers.

The following days of the training comprised of discussion on the essential policies an organisation should have for the smooth functioning of volunteers. The trainer concluded the discussion stating that rights and obligations of volunteers are based on the relevant legal regulations and on the activities the volunteer is expected to perform and on the moral obligations the organisation has towards the volunteer and vice-versa. Each organisation is expected to have a specific code of conducts for volunteers in place, which clearly sets the standards of personal responsibility, respect, and safety. The training ended with each country presenting the volunteer management re-echo plan for their respective organisations.

The Advanced Volunteer Management training was followed by the two-day review meeting, which saw the member organizations come together to discuss the progress made in the first year, and their plans for the next 12 years of the project. Caritas India plans to deliver advanced volunteer management trainings, and training on ICT4D in the 2019 and recruit 100 vibrant volunteers under this project.