I’ve just returned from the International Volunteer Co-operation Organizations (IVCO) conference in Seoul. It was inspiring to be part of a global community united in strengthening partnerships to address today’s global cooperation challenges. At a time when countries are growing increasingly nationalist and withdrawing from international collaboration, I witnessed in Seoul a civil society movement committed to strong international cooperation and eager to accomplish more together. IVCO Chair Chris Eaton summed up this commitment well: “We need to go out of our comfort zone; we need more room for our partners at the Forum and on the ground.”
The theme of this year’s conference was Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through transformative partnership in volunteering. Crossroads International took the theme to heart, kicking off the conference with Sustaining Girls’ Empowerment, a joint presentation with the Director of Educational Testing, Guidance and Psychological Services of the Swaziland Ministry of Education, Ms. Lindiwe Dlamini. We presented our work with local partner Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) that is empowering thousands of girls at risk of gender-based violence. Most importantly, we demonstrated that a program nurtured and supported by volunteers is now expanding across the country, with growing engagement, and ownership demonstrated by the Swazi Government which ultimately will be key to sustainability.
Crossroads volunteers have worked alongside local people and partners for decades. Working together as equals is a value we have held since the first volunteer served overseas in 1958. On International Volunteer Day on December 5th, we will launch our 60th anniversary celebrations on Parliament Hill. In the company of our partners from Togo and Burkina Faso and our volunteers, we will share with MPs, Senators and Ministers successful stories of 60 years of partnership addressing poverty and advancing equality across the world.
After six decades of activity and more than 9,000 volunteer placements in the South, the One World vision of our founders remains relevant, not only to Crossroads but to the entire international volunteer community. I am positive that we can unite to overcome global cooperation challenges and see better times in which the values of solidarity and equality regain their importance. Thank you to all volunteers for offering their time, skills and enthusiasm in pursuing this goal!