Peacebulding through Workcamps
How can we use international workcamps as effective instruments of post-war reconciliation? Find out with project PEWO.
How can we support youth workers in dealing with the topic of war, peace work and conflicts in international volunteering projects? In 2023-2024, the project ‘Peacebuilding through Workcamps (PEWO)’ on these questions was coordinated by INEX-SDA (Czech Republic) partnering with IBG (Germany) and cooperating with Alternative-V (Ukraine).
A brave step towards reconciliation and reconstruction at that time, the very first international voluntary workcamp took place in France in 1920, so a few months after the end of WWI. Still today, international workcamps carry those roots as a tool to work towards mutual understanding, peace and solidarity beyond borders. Within the network of international volunteering organizations, the project PEWO focussed on supporting organizations in Ukraine and using workcamps to continue to build respect and understanding between nations, which the participating organizations consider essential for lasting peace. The project was funded via Erasmus+ KA2.
Following the needs of the participating organizations, their respective group leaders as well as the partner organization in Ukraine, PEWO developed methods and material concerning war, peace work, trauma and emotional situations and conflicts in international workcamps:
In April 2023, a group of experienced trainers in non-formal youth work as well as campleaders and volunteers of international workcamp organizations from several countries met in Prague to discuss methods and tools for dealing with these topics. Together, the group prepared material to help trainers, campleaders, coordinators and eventually local partners of international workcamps deal with potentially difficult or conflict situations.
The material created was shared and tested at several training sessions for new campleaders in the Czech Republic and in Germany. Additional material was made available online for all interested campleaders and other youth workers within the network of international volunteering service organizations. The database with video and text material for group leaders is available online on a platform called “IMPROVE Campleaders Handbook”.
In July 2023, together with local authorities, Alternative-V organized an international workcamp for the recovery and reconstruction in the village of Moshun, Ukraine. A total of 12 volunteers from Ukraine, the USA, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Germany participated in the camp.
Feedback from campleaders of the international workcamps that took place in the Czech Republic, Germany and Ukraine during the summer of 2023 was collected and analyzed to edit and improve the material created, so it could be shared with the networks of volunteering organizations both on a national and an international level.