The International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE)
The International Association for Volunteer Effort
The International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) is the only international organization with the mission to promote, celebrate, and strengthen volunteerism worldwide. It was created in 1970 by a small group of people from throughout the world who shared a common vision of how volunteers can contribute:
- To the solution of human and social problems, and
- To the development of bridges of understanding among people of all nations.
They recognized the importance of international exchange of information, best practices and mutual support as a way of encouraging and strengthening volunteering globally.
Since 1970, IAVE has held world volunteer conferences every other year. These conferences have been the primary global convening of leaders of volunteering from throughout the world. The most recent was the 22nd IAVE World Volunteer Conference, which was held in London in December 2012.
The next world conference is scheduled to be held in Mexico City, Mexico in 2016
IAVE also holds regional conferences in different regions of the world in alternate (odd) years. The First IAVE Regional Volunteer Conference for the Arab Nations was held in Beirut in March 2011. The second regional conference took place in Oman November 24-26, 2013 (see report below). Plans are now under way for the Third IAVE Regional Volunteer Conference for the Arab Nations to be held in Bahrain November 12-14, 2015.
Dr. Patricia Nabti, the Director of the Learning to CARE Institute, is the Regional Representative of IAVE for the Arab Nations. For a current list of IAVE National Representatives, including those from Arab countries please click here.
Individuals and organizations that want to actively promote volunteering in the region are encouraged to become members of IAVE. For more information about IAVE, visit the IAVE website: www.iave.org. For updates about IAVE conferences and news about volunteering in the Arab region be sure to sign up for the Institute newsletter in Arabic or English.
A Special Report - featured in the December 2013 issue of e-IAVE
[This report was prepared by Dr Patricia Nabti, IAVE Regional Representative for the Arab Nations, from Lebanon.]
The 2nd IAVE Arab Nations Regional Volunteer Conference was held November 24-26 in Muscat, Oman, under the patronage of His Excellency Darwish Ismail bin Ali al-Balushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs. It was hosted by the Oman Association for Consumer Protection, a long-time member of IAVE, and the past host of a number of important training programs on volunteering.
About 300 leaders of volunteering attended the conference from 20 of the 22 Arab countries and 14 non-Arab countries from throughout the world. They came from universities, schools, NGOs, government agencies, and corporations, and they brought with them an amazing diversity of experiences, challenges, and ideas to share.
Conference organizers were very honored that the IAVE Board of Directors had chosen to hold its annual meeting in Muscat two days before the conference, assuring the presence of world leaders of volunteering from countries as diverse as Australia, India, Togo, Germany, Colombia and the United States.
The Arab Federation for Voluntary Activities, an agency of the League of Arab States, was also well-represented at the conference with 19 delegates from 13 Arab countries, including its Secretary General, Mr. Yusuf al-Kazim from Qatar.
True to its objectives, the conference provided a variety of opportunities for participants to learn, share, and network with others in volunteerism from throughout the region and the world.
In addition to the Opening and Closing sessions there were four topical plenaries. In The Scope of Volunteering, IAVE Board members introduced themselves as they gave brief introductions to such topics as family volunteering, corporate volunteering, and voluntourism. It was at this plenary that Salma Al-Rashid of Saudi Arabia, was honored as the first person from the Arab region to become a Certified Volunteer Administrator (CVA).
Another plenary discussed Policies Related to Volunteering both in the Arab World and in other countries and regions. A third discussed the topic of Youth, Volunteering and Employment, based on work IAVE has been doing in on that issue. and introduced the IAVE Initiative of that name.
In both the Youth Track report and the Closing Ceremony, participants presented recommendations for what needs to be done to improve volunteering in the region.
In addition to the plenaries there were four breakout sessions and four tracks:
In Track One, Training in Volunteer Management, three specialists from the region provided training of trainers on volunteer basics, project planning and implementation, developing a volunteer program, and developing local volunteer centers.
In Track Two, Inspiring Practices in Volunteering in the Arab Region, more than 20 participants gave presentations on their own volunteer programs.
In Track Three, the Youth Track, participating youth joined Track One for the two breakout sessions and then met separately to develop their recommendations for youth volunteering in the region.
In Track Four, Corporate Volunteering, Kenn Allen, Senior Consultant to IAVE and project director for its landmark Global Corporate Volunteering Project, held a multi-part seminar for companies and NGOs on corporate volunteering and the development of effective corporate-NGO partnerships.
The World of Volunteering Poster Exhibit displayed more than 25 promotional posters of volunteering from around the world, many dating back to International Year of Volunteers in 2001. Many organizations in the region and conference sponsors displayed and distributed their posters, pamphlets, books, T-shirts, and other promotional materials.
The Conference Venues
Conference sessions were held in the Lecture Hall of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, one of a complex of buildings inaugurated by his majesty Sultan Qaboos in May 2001, featuring a blend of Islamic, Middle Eastern, and Omani architectural styles, and adorned with beautiful mosaics, carpets, and chandeliers. The main prayer hall holds the second largest carpet in the world, woven on site by 600 female weavers from Iran, and has one of the world’s largest crystal chandeliers. Because of its location within the mosque complex, the conference had a strict dress code in which all women wore headscarves, long sleeves, and full-length dresses, skirts, or pants.
The Conference Gala Dinner was held at Bait Zubair in Old Muscat, an events center and museum, which displays the Zubair family’s collection of artifacts representing Oman’s rich heritage and culture.
Participants were able to choose from four different site visits in and around Oman where they learned about volunteer programs. Two of the groups visited programs for youth with special needs: Association for Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities for children from birth through 6 years, and the Oman Association for the Welfare of Handicapped Children for children with disabilities from the age of 6 years upwards. Those who went to Dar Al Atta, not only learned about its programs to serve needy families in Oman, but actually helped fill boxes with books and other supplies for these family. The fourth group visited a nature preserve where they learned of efforts to restore this important natural habitat to its natural state and were given boots to where and tools to use to actually plant mangroves.
The Frankincense tree was chosen as the logo of the conference because of the many ways it serves as a true giving tree, symbolizing the many ways that volunteers give of their time and talents to help others and to improve the societies in which they live. The actual logo and banner for the conference were designed by the world-class Omani designer Shadya bint Salim Al Ismailiya, and served as a great example of skills-based volunteering.
A Green Conference
In our efforts to contribute to a sustainable world, free of pollution of our earth, our waters, and our air, organizers strove to make this a “Green Conference.” For example:
♣ There were no plastic water bottles at the conference. Instead, all participants were given metal water bottles as a practical souvenir to be refilled at water dispensers.
♣ Conference bags were designed to be reusable as totes and shopping bags
♣ Printing was done on two sides where possible
♣ All catering used reusable dishes and cups, and the caterers assured us that excess food would be given to those less fortunate
♣ One of the site visits was to plant mangroves which served as a carbon offset for at least some of the pollution caused by travel to the conference
Discussions and Recommendations
Finally, the conference held a discussion session in which conference participants formed small focus groups to discuss specific issues related to volunteering and develop recommendations for the conference. These are serving as the basis for inviting participants and others from the region to participate and provide leadership for 16 different committees than can sustain the efforts of the conference during the two years between regional conferences.
In her presentation at the closing session of the conference, IAVE Vice President Kylee Bates summed up the conference with these words:
I judge the success of an IAVE Conference by asking 5 questions:
♣ Did I learn something new about volunteering, about the world and its people?
♣ Did I hear other delegates talking about what they were learning and sharing?
♣ Did I observe people from different countries, cultures and languages working and talking together in the common language of volunteering?
♣ Was there a lot of noise, laughter, passion and conversation before and after conference sessions; and
♣ Before the end of the conference are people already asking about where and when the next conference will be?
How do I answer these questions for the 2nd IAVE Arab Nations Regional Conference?
I answer 5 out of 5 – Yes!
Today at this conference I also want to highlight another indicator of success – that is, we have had 16 new IAVE members who have joined during the conference."
By the time participants left to their various destinations in the region, that number had grown to 26, and the number is still growing as participants begin their plans to attend the world conference in Australia in 2014 and to organize the next regional conference in 2015.
Over 400 people attended the conference from 70 countries worldwide. They included 23 participants from 10 Arab countries: 6 from Saudi Arabia, 5 from Kuwait, 2 each from Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Tunisia, and one each from Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, and the UAE. We were 25 if we count the woman from Colombia of Lebanese heritage, Raaida Mannaa, who we adopted into our delegation and the representative of UPS on the Global Corporate Volunteer Council (Ed Martinez) whose mother is Lebanese.
The participants from the region included 5 IAVE National Representatives (Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, and Qatar + the UAE), four representatives of national volunteer centers (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE), and five representatives of corporate volunteering (Hikma Pharmaceuticals in Jordan, National Commercial Bank in Saudi Arabia, and 3 from HP in Morocco and Tunisia. There would have been five more participants from a total of 13 countries, but two people from Kuwait who registered did not attend, and the three National Representatives from Algeria, Sudan, and Yemen could not get visas in time. Moussa, Osama, and Hasan – we really missed you! Four of the participants gave presentations: Ismail Abu Arafeh from Palestine, Dr. Salem Aldini from KSA, Ahmed Almershed from Kuwait, and Dr. Patricia Nabti, Director of the Learning to CARE Institute, from Lebanon.
All in all, we had a great opportunity to network among ourselves and meet people committed to promoting volunteering from around the world.
Check out the report in Arabic from the Sanaya Club youth participants of Kuwait and over 1500 pictures of the conference on the IAVE website: https://www.facebook.com/iavenews?fref=ts.