What is Short-Term Volunteer Assignments?

At the request of a local organization (associations, women's groups, artisans, cooperatives, educational networks, scientific partners) the STVA allows you to be involved in a short-term assignment (2 to 4 weeks). This assignment takes place after a two-day training course on the premises of PU and a day's work from home, and allows you to share and pass on your skills and knowledge to empower local people and help them protect their environment.

You can undertake an international solidarity assignment during your vacation from work, either with funding from your employer or by means of a personal donation. PU offers assignments that are managed and supervised by our teams. Without being a humanitarian or development aid professional, everyone has personal or professional skills and expertise that could be useful to others. PU allows you to identify the development and environmental protection projects that need your input to move forward.

A PU volunteer is not involved "instead of": it is a question of offering assistance and sharing knowledge for a project that is organized and implemented by the people in the countries that more often than not do not have access to vocational training or for whom the cost of bringing in outside skills is too high.

Between 2000 and 2017, PU achieved the following:

  • 8,361 volunteers went on STVA
  • 1283 projects supported in 41 countries working with 90 local partners
  • 629 partner companies, foundations and local authorities

Skills and principles of involvement

When on STVA with PU you are not on holiday, but in your free time undertake an international solidarity assignment with a non-profit French association serving local people who are involved in development and environmental protection.

In order to ensure the success of the assignment, PU volunteers are asked to respect the principles of intervention that will be explained to them during their pre-departure training.

The donation charter: "The hand that gives is always above the hand that receives" (Amadou Hampâté Bâ).

"Donating clothes, food or drugs to the poor is common reflex. Especially when living in wealthy countries where we have more than enough and often get rid of objects that we say may be useful to others. Unfortunately, not everything is quite so simple in this regard: although a gift would seem to be the most natural form of solidarity, it is not necessarily the best and may even be the worst.

It is an amazing paradox, but some gestures of generosity can actually harm their beneficiaries. Donations may be unsuitable, inappropriate, dangerous, polluting, destroy the local economy, etc. They may also create power relationships, generate dependent behavior, increase inequalities, feed the black market, etc. All things we do not necessarily think about when emptying our closets, shelves or warehouses.

Donating equipment is rarely the most effective and responsible way of being supportive. And if a donation is made, it must be a well thought out gift, based on a specific request from the beneficiary and not an opportunity to give things away that are no longer wanted or useful."

(Source: extract from the document "Donner pour agir?" - November 2006 - Ritimo - Réseau d'information et de documentation pour le développement durable et la solidarité international - information and documentation network for sustainable development and international solidarity)

PU agrees with this approach, which is why we ask you to respect the following:

  • Strictly prohibited donations: drugs, eyeglasses, donations of money, gifts to partners and beneficiaries, new or used clothing, toys and baby clothes, shoes, books.
  • Authorized donations / gifts: photos.

Specific equipment needs must be approved by STVA programme managers.

As an alternative to making collections, we suggest raising funds for our school kits or reforestation programs.

Security on assignment

Although the countries in which we operate are not suffering from major political or military crises, they are generally "developing" countries, i.e. suffering from extreme poverty, with a significant wealth divide and a lack of infrastructure and redistribution. This may be in the form of a dangerous road network, poorly controlled crime and a poorly resourced justice system. For each country we operate in we have prepared a description of the security issues and of the principles of vigilance and safety precautions that should be taken. We monitor the situation continuously and are in regular contact with the national and international authorities in each country. However, security is first and foremost a matter of individual behavior which must always be in line with the previously established principles serving the shared project. These principles cannot therefore be interpreted according to each individual or each character.

In order to undertake a assignment with full knowledge of the facts, we invite you to read the opinion of the French authorities for each country where we operate along with our own analyses and operating principles.

More information about the insurance policy covering assignments

PU has signed a repatriation assistance contract for its volunteers, which applies in the event of injury, serious illness, or death. The insurer has to agree to the claim beforehand. Once agreed the policy covers:

  • Transport costs (ambulance, plane, etc) to the hospital nearest to the volunteer's home in case of illness or serious accident
  • Additional coverage of costs incurred in the country in question (after reimbursement by the social organizations the volunteer is covered by)
  • The repatriation of the body in the event of the death of the volunteer
  • Early return: airfare costs covered in the event of the death of a close family member

The insurer may also make a cash advance in the event of unexpected expenses resulting from a serious difficulty. Download our EuropAssistance contract guarantees.

Pre-departure training

Among the many possibilities offered by PU you can pre- identify up to three in order of preference and interest, depending on your skills and your availability. You then specify the type of funding envisaged:

  • Company partner: your employer finances your assignment and concludes a partnership agreement with PU
  • No partner: your employer finances your assignment but without concluding an agreement with PU
  • Or "individual": you or your loved ones make a donation

If you plan to become involved in STVA as an individual, you will receive an initial email from the administrative manager, Myriam Merskar. If you checked the "company" box, Benedicte Ayeh, in the STVA partnerships department, will contact you. Ms Merskar or Ms Ayeh will help you finalize funding arrangements for the assignment. They will then inform you of the next steps to take:

  • Send a CV with a covering letter
  • Interview (free and confidential ) with a psychologist for all assignments involving young people

This first stage will not take longer than 10 days. On receipt of the confirmation documents, you will be put in touch with the assignment manager in Paris. Together you will complete the details of the objectives and activities involved in the assignment and will organize the dates for your pre-departure training days.

Assignment approval, CV and covering letter: why and for whom?

Your CV and covering letter allows us to measure the suitability of the chosen assignment against your knowledge and skills. They will also be sent to the local partner benefiting from your STVA. The beneficiary partner will approve your application or request additional information if necessary.

Important: except for STVA in Haiti, we do not select candidates on the basis of a preliminary interview. However, we do ensure with you that you have chosen an assignment where your skills and personal or professional experience you will enable you to feel comfortable. This is in both your interests and the interests of the beneficiaries who welcome you.

Creating your personal space

Once your application has been registered, your personal space will be automatically created on our site: you can access it with your personal code that will be sent to you automatically when you register. Your file is updated and you will find all the administrative documents and useful information for preparing your assignment in your personal space.

Assignments involving contact with children and teenagers

For educational support STVA, book focused assignments and advisory or supervisory assignments, an appointment is made between the future volunteer and a psychologist from Etap Paris Association as a precaution for both the children and adults. At the end of the interview, the psychologist will either agree to, or disagree with, you undertaking this particular assignment. The information exchanged during the interview is strictly confidential: the psychologist is bound by the rules of professional secrecy, we have no knowledge of the discussion (only the final opinion is made known to us).

Pre-departure training

To prepare you as well as possible and ensure you are quickly operational, the assignment is preceded by three days of pre-departure training.

The date for your pre-departure training is decided together with your programme manager, taking into account your assignment departure dates and the places still available in the various sessions (no more than 35 people per session).

The training is mandatory and takes place at on Thursdays and Fridays at regular intervals. We strongly recommend completing it at least one month before departure. You may then meet the people with whom you will be going (depending on their availability).

Organization of the STVA

Once there: supervision and support

Assignment never exceed four consecutive weeks and most of them last 15 days. The management and support for your STVA once in the country varies considerably depending on whether we have a PU representative there or a local partner representative. In Paris, six programme managers are in charge of the projects and assignments undertaken each country.

In some countries the number of partnerships and projects is large enough to justify the presence of a full-time PU employee. Our association's representative(s) will always be present on the ground, responsible for identifying partnerships and for monitoring and supervising / evaluating assignments, and for relations with regional national and international authorities. The representative(s) will usually be supported by one or more colleagues.

In countries where there a fewer assignments, one of our local partners represents PU.

When you arrive at the airport, you will be met and transported to your assignment location. You will be briefed again on the terms of your involvement when meeting the beneficiary local partner. It is also an opportunity to resolve any outstanding practical issues, get to know each other, get used to the new environment, and find out about your new living conditions.

Housing conditions may vary from one assignment to another: simple hotel, single or double rooms camping... Our programme managers will give you logistical details, do not hesitate to ask them.

You can contact the PU representative(s), or the PU local partner representative in the country, or the STVA manager in Paris at any time.

On the ground, except for personal expenses, you will not have to pay for your transport, accommodation or food.

Back in France

STVA results and evaluation: at the end of your assignment you and the beneficiary local partner will have a debriefing to evaluate the results and ensure continuity with the next volunteer, if there is one. Within a maximum period of one month from when you return to France you must send us your end of assignment report. The end of assignment report will allow us to draw objective conclusions about your involvement, and with you measure the amount achieved in order to be in a position to more effectively brief the volunteers that will continue your work or that will work on similar assignments.

Your STVA is formally completed upon receipt of your final activity report.

The post-assignment program

The purpose of the day is to offer support to any volunteers who so wish. Two main objectives are:

  • To share experiences of the STVA and explore any desire for future action (with PU or elsewhere). One of the alternatives offered by PU is to become an ambassador).
  • As soon as you return, you can register for the programme directly from your personal space.

Become an ambassador

After having completed the post assignment day, volunteers can envisage becoming Ambassadors...