JCU Welcomes FOCSIV EU Programme Manager Eva Pastorelli
FOCSIV stands for “Federation of Christian Organizations for International Volunteer Service.” It was founded in 1972 with the goal to “promote justice, peace and fraternity among communities,” said Eva Pastorelli. With 600 volunteers, 400 projects and 3,000 workers in developing countries, FOCSIV promotes international cooperation and solidarity in over 80 countries worldwide. Among its different fields of intervention, FOCSIV focuses on education and training, economic development, female empowerment, inclusion, and migration.
After receiving her master’s degree in International and Diplomatic Science from the University of Bologna in 2013, Eva Pastorelli attended a special class at FOCSIV’s School of International Political Development and Cooperation. In 2016, she volunteered in Peru for one year with the National Civil Service. Upon her return, she was offered to join the staff of the National and International Secretariat in Rome where she currently works.
Eva Pastorelli discussed the structure behind a non-profit organization like FOCSIV, but also the relevance of soft skills within the volunteering field.
The Structure of FOCSIV’s National Secretariat
FOCSIV’s National Secretariat is located in Rome and is composed of six main departments. The International and National Volunteering department is responsible for the operations of two main volunteering programs: the Universal Civil Service and the Civil Peace Corps (an experimental program that started in 2018), both employing volunteers working on peace-keeping actions in conflict areas. FOCSIV promotes 41 projects in Italy with around 200 volunteers in multiple fields of intervention and 63 projects abroad with around 300 volunteers.
The Lobbying and Advocacy department promotes social justice for all individuals and focuses on four themes:
- • Land grabbing and agroecology. Every year, FOCSIV publishes “Padroni della terra” (Owners of the land) a report focused on land grabbing (the ecological and political phenomenon consisting of land expropriation) and agroecology (the application of ecological principles to agricultural systems and practices).
- • Environmental development and integral ecology. In 2020, FOCSIV published the “Guide for Integral Ecology,” a collection of 20 concrete cases of economic and social activities aimed at promoting modes of production and consumption for a sustainable lifestyle.
- • Human rights, social development, and finance. FOCSIV is committed to reducing the gap between rich and poor countries by promoting the empowerment of local communities.
- • Migration and development. FOCSIV considers migrants “a patrimony of skills, cultures, and growth for the host countries.” To raise awareness on this theme, the federation has launched the nation-wide event “Tavolata italiana senza muri” (Italian tables without borders). In 2019, the initiative gathered about 1,000 people in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome with the message that Italy is a welcoming country. FOCSIV also supports the national campaign “Io accolgo” (I Welcome) committed to the integration and support of migrants.
The National, European, and International Cooperation is in charge of promoting intervention and projects in multiple fields. At the European level, FOCSIV coordinates “Easy,” a project awarded by the European Commission that supports the recognition of soft skills. At the International level, FOCSIV operates in the Iraqi-Kurdistan region and supports community consultations and awareness-raising campaigns on inclusion, mutual understanding, and social cohesion between the Syrian refugee community and the host society.
The fourth department is related to Communication campaigns and fundraisings. It is responsible for the promotion of FOCSIV values and activities, in particular through national awareness campaigns and institutional events. “Abbiamo riso per una cosa seria” (We laughed at something serious) is a campaign organized by FOCSIV that supports family farming. Every May, almost 3,000 volunteers gather in major Italian squares, parishes, and markets inviting people to make donations to distribute rice packets. In 2020, this campaign reached almost 27 countries. Another event related to the Communication department is the International Volunteering Award: every year since 1993, FOCSIV celebrates the commitment of world volunteers.
The Impact of Covid-19
The pandemic forced FOCSIV to retool many initiatives and adapt them to each country’s individual needs. Fields of intervention and education were transformed into food subsistence projects and mask and safety equipment distribution. “Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano” (Give us each day our daily bread), is a campaign organized by FOCSIV and Caritas to respond to the economic backlash of the pandemic. In one year, the campaign has reached more than 200,000 vulnerable people in 45 countries all over the world and it is still ongoing.
The fifth department is related to Education and Training and is in charge of organizing the master course of International Political Cooperation and Development in Rome. This master, which was inaugurated in 2014, is co-promoted by the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome. Due to the Covid pandemic, the master is currently online. For the academic year 2020-21, the program is made up of 5 modules and includes an internship of a minimum of three months in Italy or abroad.
Finally, the Accounting and Administration department documents and records the accounting operations and is responsible for the management of human resources within the federation.
What happened to FOCSIV since the beginning of the pandemic
Eva Pastorelli pointed out how interest in volunteering has increased around the world since March and April 2020. “People from different parts of the world and most diverse cultures reacted similarly to the crisis, showing that such interest increased significantly at a time when societies needed cohesion and solidarity as never before,” said Eva Pastorelli.
For students interested in volunteering, FOCSIV offers internship opportunities with five months minimum to make the most out of their program.