EVS Diary

My passion for non profits

When I was seventeen, my mom told me about workcamps. Indeed, she used to work in an international workcamp organization before becoming a spanish teacher. Somehow, she convinced me to do one and here I was in a tiny french village surrounded by Japanese, Korean, Russian, Serbian and French people clearing hiking trails and building a dry stone wall. I had the time of my life and I will never forget it. I loved finally talking to people in English instead of learning it in books and at school, I loved the fact that the world came to me. I learnt so much on myself and on how to behave with others during that time. It is definitely that workcamp that got me into travels. Before it started I thought there would be only Europeans, who would cross the world for cutting branches and doing masonry ? Well I was naive, because the work part in workcamp is not the most important part. It’s only a way of meeting people from around the world. The encounter is the main goal. I think I learned life there. And this experience determined the rest of my path. So when I got into university I decided to volunteer : I was helping festivals, was a buddy for an exchange student, got involved in an Humanitarian organization to do fundraising,…

After searching for a career in journalism and dreaming of working for the United Nations, I finally decided that I wanted to work in NGOs. Someone convinced me of doing this. During my year in Turin, I had a guest speaker in one class that told us that eventhough it’s good to work for the state, some people has to hold it accountable. In democracy, the power belongs to the people, so organized people (civil society) has to control what the government does and protest if it doesn’t take action for the common good.

What I really like about NGOs is their creativity. It stroke me especially here in Slovakia where the non profit sector was really born after the end of communism. And now I see NGOs’ youth, as a chance. It’s a chance to not have a tradition, to create something from scratch not because you’re influenced by tradition, history or habits but because it’s needed. It’s always better to do things for the good reasons. And slovak associations get inspired by good practices they gather abroad. The associations are young and so are the persons working there. And I think this is why they are so creative. Creativity is something essential when you don’t have a lot of money. So is cooperation.

I think that now with the economical crisis, partnership is essential between NGOs. Subsides are getting cut, so we need to brainstorm together to have new ideas of funding or to share costs. Sometimes, things you think are bad can actually turn out to be great opportunities for change and innovation.



Claire Billon-Grand


Photo  : revel.in

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