Since 2011, France Volontaires has been testing a programme that allows young volunteers from Mali and Niger to be at the heart of French structures. This ambition has been around for a while, and was made possible by :
- A politico-strategic choice : maintaining solidarity links between actors from France, Mali and Niger following the withdrawal of all volunteers from these countries in 2010,
- an institutional opportunity, the law of the 10th of March 2010 on Civic Service allows any young person from a country which hosts French volunteers to carry out a volunteering mission in French territory, upon obtaining a visa.
This programme’s ambition is :
- to allow young people from Mali and Niger to experience volunteering in France in an atmosphere of inter-cultural exchange and world citizenship, commitment and learning of skills,
- to create lasting global and French solidarity within an original partnership,
- to pursue cooperative relations between Mali, Niger and France despite the current impossibility of mobilising French volunteers in these countries,
- to think big and kick-start practices for welcoming foreign volunteers to France.
From July 2012 to April 2013, 6 volunteers from Mali and 1 from Niger will be welcomed by French organisations. These missions involve an advance preparation phase and a subsequent recognition phase in Mali (in partnership with the National Centre for the Promotion of Volunteering) and in Niger.
Before becoming part of the Malian and French structures, these 7 volunteers benefited from a three-day preparation course organised in Bamako in May 2012 and a two-day welcome and introduction course in Ivry-sur-Seine in September 2012. Tutors from the South as well as France participated in these courses. In January 2013, a ‘mid-term assessment’ gathering of volunteers and tutors was organised at France Volontaires’ headquarters.
France Volontaires has a agreed to a central role for the programme’s capitalisation. An administrative guide on the welcoming of volunteers is in the process of being finalised. A complete document on the capitalisation of this experience will be produced and released to actors in the sector.
In 2013, France Volontaires is creating a larger scale programme with its member organisations and interested regional actors. This programme could mobilise a hundred or so volunteers, with expansion into other countries that have a national volunteering body. In the meantime, the programme has extended to two other countries, Burkina Faso and Senegal, which have national volunteering bodies.
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