12 July, 2022

The European Training Grassroots Change in Rome

Volunteering, leadership and emancipation through hands-on work and mentoring

About the Project 

The European training “Grassroots Change: Volunteering, leadership and emancipation through hands-on work and mentoring” has just ended. For one week, 17 participants from 8 different countries, through non-formal education, discussed how to create change from below by reflecting, with a global perspective, on how organizations and local communities can benefit from volunteering experiences with a focus on climate change.

People sitting and listening to someone outside of the picture frame

The project’s goal was to investigate the reduction of voluntary exchange between European and African countries by addressing the “voluntourism” perspective in our organizations’ work. During this training, we tried to identify the importance of knowledge transfer to younger generations in order to build dynamic and resilient organizations, and we adapted to transformative leadership. As long-term volunteering grows, we want to increase capacity in volunteer preparation and mentoring. Because the project’s ultimate goal is to create change from the ground up in each organization’s communities, we wanted to reflect on it from a global perspective in order to gain a better understanding of global challenges, with a focus on climate justice.

People talking with each other durng an activityThe project’s specific goals were to: 

  1. Set up a long-term training program for youth leaders of international short-term volunteer projects that emphasized peer learning and transformational leadership.
  2. As you create online preparatory materials and guidance tools, begin a reflection on new forms of long-term volunteering in Africa.
  3. Improve your project management abilities.

Dorcas, a participant from South Africa who is also Programme Coordinator at South Africa Volunteer Workcamp Association: “I wanted to gain more practical information and learning abilities about workcamps.”


Visit to Semi di Comunità

One of the goals of the week was to write guidelines on climate justice to give to future coordinators or partners in order to have a sustainable work camp. Firstly, educational workcamps were coordinated and focused on one of the main topics of the week, climate justice. That’s why a visit was made to Semi di Comunità, one of the partners of SCI Italy, to work on this issue. Semi di Comunita is an ecological farm just outside of Rome. The team spent the whole day there, dedicating Tuesday to this farm.

Marie, long-term volunteer with SCI Italy and one of the facilitators and participants, tells us:

We met one of our contacts there, Davide, and the group learned from him on how to get organized. Besides visiting the farm completely, we also had the opportunity to help with gardening. We gathered vegetables and fruits from the garden. It was a really nice experience. It was a great source of inspiration for us to make this visit and meet the farmers working there. This was a really interesting moment and we had the opportunity to exchange ideas and ask questions.

Group picture in a field


Activities and workshops on climate justice were held throughout the week. The whole team was divided into small groups and asked to work on a topic or write guidelines. Some of these topics were waste, energy, food, and travel.

People in a yoga pose

Luisa, a participant from Italy:

I liked the fact that we are always 16 people… we are always divided into different teams. Which I think is the most precious thing because you don’t always work with the same people, you’re not always divided in the same way. So the things change, the pro changes, the outcome changes every time in the activities. The most interesting thing about the project you can not only share ideas, share ideas with people all around the world which it’s not usually happen because sometimes we have Italian programs while in that case we had amazing and a unique possibility to talk and share ideas with people completely different backgrounds.

According to Dorcas:

I’m kind of enjoying every moment. The space and also the vibes among the group because there is more like engagement, intense discussions within the group. So training is more comfortable and good for me. What I’m taking back home is like how am I going to change the community from whatever I have collected among the group.

In addition, an activity was held to bring together those who have coordinated a work-camp before and those who have never coordinated a work-camp before, where they can interview each other. Thus, those who have never coordinated a work-camp before asked all the questions in their minds to the experienced ones.

Luisa adds:

One of the biggest things that I learned from this training is listening. Listening to other people and being an active listener, being able to understand people with completely different ideas. Also can add to your life and so I would really like to talk more about climate justice in the way that we did here in the camp. So with games, with activities that were not only studying, they were not like the standard seminar that we are used to doing every day.

At the same time, the group had the opportunity to participate in activities at “La Città dell’Utopia”. One of them was a yoga class organized by Marie.

Marie explains to us:

It was a great experience and a great opportunity for the participants to attend the yoga class. It was also very nice for them to discover the activities we did here. It was a pleasant opportunity to do a relaxing activity with all the participants after a long week.

This training course is organized in the framework of “Grassroots Change: Volunteering, leadership and emancipation through hands-on work and mentoring” has been funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and is being implemented by the following project partners: Voluntary Workcamps Association of Nigeria (VWAN), Associacao de Jovens Voluntarios (AJOV Mozambique), South Africa Volunteer Work Association (SAVWA), Zimbabwe Workcamps Association (ZWA), SCI Catalonia, SCI International, SCI Italy, and KVT Finland.

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