Ariane, civic service and new responsible for Benin
For a first experience within a structure of international solidarity, this civic service brings a lot. Autonomy and initiative are very present. This position allows you to touch everything. It allows you to discover the situation of street and/or vulnerable children in 6 countries around the world and to understand the functioning of each local office according to the context of the country concerned.
Why did you apply for CDRI ?
I joined the "International and local solidarity project coordinator" training course at IFAID Aquitaine. This program takes place over 2 years. For my second year, I had to complete a 9-month internship. I discovered CDRI on the civic service website. I immediately appreciated the actions of CDRI and the Coalition. So I applied for the position of development officer for the actions of CDRI (Benin, Guinea) proposed by the association for the year 2019-2020.
What did your civic service missions consist of ?
I was in charge of coordinating projects in Benin and Guinea. My role was to support the local teams in their search for funding, project development and monitoring, and thus act as a link between the local offices and the head office in Paris. I therefore carried out this civic service from headquarters.
In addition to project management, I also had communication missions to carry out (creation of websites, communication supports...). Besides this international dimension, I had the opportunity to take part in the actions of our French partners, La Chorba and Paris d'Exil. I gave French lessons to isolated miners every Thursday morning and I also occasionally took part in the meal distributions and marauds organised by La Chorba.
During your missions, did you experience any difficulties ?
I did not experience any particular difficulties during this year. There is however a time of adaptation to have considering the different statutes present in the association. A volunteer with a full-time job in addition to his associative commitment will only be available from 5pm-7pm for example. I therefore had to adapt my working hours according to the availability of the different members.
Did you learn anything ?
I learned a lot during this civic service. I was able to concretely apply the theory I had learned during my training. I had a lot of autonomy. What I found great was the encouragement to take initiative. Even though I was a junior, I was able to put forward my ideas and I was helped to put them into practice.
How did it go with the other civic service volunteers?
We were a team of 5 volunteers (2 in Benin and 3 including myself in France). I was in daily contact with my colleague in Benin. I also met every week with my two other colleagues in France. We all had the same dynamism and the same motivation to improve the actions of CDRI, we became friends very quickly. GIRL POWER!
How will your role within the association change after the end of your contract?
I'm going to continue volunteering at Citoyen des Rues ! In the future, I'll be in charge of future civic services and I've been chosen to become responsible for relations with our shelter in Benin.
I recommend this project to anyone who wants to leave their comfort zone. Expatriation is a way to get to know each other better, to nurture an open-mindedness and to be confronted with a way of life that is out of the usual pattern that we have been used to.
Amélie, civic service volunteer in Benin
"The employees of the NGO were very welcoming to me. The director of the structure was always very understanding and listened to me whenever I had the slightest question about the organization of the structure as well as the customs of the country. Moreover, I have a very good relationship with my colleagues, which has enabled me to become a little more involved every day in the understandings related to the country. I have never had the feeling of being alone. Quite the contrary."
TEAM ON SITE
"During my mission, a volunteer was present to support the psychology section but also French, German, Nigerian and Beninese volunteers to animate the daily life of the children...
In addition, the local team gathers an executive director, a psychologist, social worker, specialized educator, animator, cook."
"I haven't encountered any problems concerning food because some Beninese or regional specialities are particularly good and we have access to many supermarkets with everything we need. Almost all Beninese people speak French fluently and it is possible to quickly learn a few words in fungus to communicate in everyday life."