What is International Voluntary Service?

Pierre Ceresole, founder of SCI. His motto was "Deeds not words."

Pierre Ceresole, founder of SCI. His motto was “Deeds not words.”

The idea of International Voluntary Service came from a Swiss pacifist, Pierre Ceresole, following the First World War. Not able to sit idly he searched for the “moral equivalent for war,” and the concept of international workcamps was born. He founded “Service Civil International” (SCI) with its emphasis upon constructive, voluntary service for peace through international work camps in devastated and conflict areas.

After World War II, international voluntary service projects brought former enemy populations together in solidarity. In 1948, with the support of the recently established United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS) was created to coordinate these new international voluntary service organizations. In 2018, CCIVS will be celebrating its 70th anniversary!

VFP works with large network organizations worldwide to promote IVS projects, historically known as “workcamps.” Through our international alliances, we exchange hundreds of volunteers each year who work together to help communities meet local needs and some of the goals of the United Nation’s Millennium Declaration.

Within the CCIVS network, over 100,000 volunteers are exchanged annually!