A training on topics related to IT, Support and Risk Management by AFS International (facilitated by EFIL) took place in Belgrade, Serbia, from 22 to 26 July.

The much appreciated training was attended by volunteers and staff of the AFS partners in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Sweden, Romania, Bulgaria and the UK, most of them young or new organisations.  From EFIL’s side, Paul Claes and Inga Menke attended the meeting.

Trainers from AFS International – Larrry Barnett, David Blythe and Stijn Van den Bergh – had prepared a well designed agenda for the group.  Stijn’s ICT training included an overview of the ICT landscape and the use of afsglobal.org to communicate, look up documents and contact info, pay network bills, find visa and programme info, store data, etc.  Stijn further elaborated on Global Link, User Administration, Finances (payments between partners, medical claims, reports) and gave an update from the AFS IP ICT team.  David’s session included support basics, the AFS Medical Plan and a number of medical case studies.  Larry focused on all aspects of Risk Management, and included a number of case studies which allowed for lively group discussions.

Comments from all the participants were very positive. This was a much needed training, and partners turned up in great numbers, in spite of the timing in the middle of the summer break in Europe.  EFIL wants to thank AFS International for making this training affordable, since the participants were mostly new or young AFS organisations with limited resources.  Events like this are not only learning experiences contributing to the better functioning of the organisations, but also have a not to be underestimated positive effect on the motivation of the volunteers and staff involved.

EFIL used the opportunity to include side-meetings with all the partners present to discuss the progress and developments. EFIL keeps regular and close contact with all the young partner organisations and steers and monitors the development in the new partner countries Bulgaria and Romania.

On Sunday, when the training was over, the partner organisations of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia, held their first Balkan Regional Meeting (attended by EFIL), discussing the realities of each organisation (chapters, sending/hosting, volunteer development, programme diversity, school relations, …), and focusing on opportunities for regional cooperation, sharing materials and ideas, and volunteer development.  It was decided to hold a Balkan Regional Meeting once a year.

AFS Serbia was the perfect host for this training, as always.  Next time, they promised to have a chat with the weather man, as 38°C was a bit more than we had bargained for (some participants will disagree with me on this…).