05.09.17 | News

100 Emails for a Visa

Birgit Grobe Slopianka, Head of the Ecumenical YouthVolunteersProgramm (EYVP) reports about the long road to a successful South-South exchange
Shaun Engel with his relatives at the airport

South-South volunteer Shaun Engel says good bye to his cousins at the airport. (Photo: Engel)

"I got my visa for South Africa!" At the beginning of August I received this pleasant message from Novella via WhatsApp. And Shaun also announced after some back and forth: "Hi Birgit, I received my Indonesian visa today, thank you!"

Novella Ransun from the Christian Church in South Sulawesi in Indonesia and Shaun Engel from the Moravian Church in South Africa are this year's South-South volunteers of the EYVP. The fact that one is heading into the home country of the other is sheer coincidence.

The South-South exchange of the EYVP is a rather small programme. Up to now, it was not easy to promote it. But because of the international youth workshops which take place more often and the intensification of the youth network in regional groups on-site, the information of a possible South-South exchange is becoming more popular.

Novella Ransun from Indonesia
Novella Ransun on her way to South Africa. (Photo: Ransun)

"I am living my dream," writes Novella in one of the 100 emails we wrote each other in preparation of her volunteer service at Elim Home. So one can only hope that the messages of the countries in which the volunteers will go help to realise those dreams. Officially, the visa regulations are the same for all - Indonesian and South African volunteers have to fill out the same documents as the German volunteers for the North-South programme. But then, the South-South volunteers are invited for interviews in the embassies and have to be well informed about the EMS Fellowship, the Youth Volunteers Programme and their volunteer service. And they have to prove - preferably by a verification of an employer in their home country - that they will return home after six months. My duty is to prepare them for all of that. Therefore, 100 emails will be written with each volunteer as well as Whatsapp and Facebook messages and telephone calls. Finally, their farewell photos from the airport are my biggest reward.

Birgit Grobe-Slopianka

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