Of course it does. It is a way to improve the social development of the poorest neighborhoods, where the population in general and the youngsters in particular are facing high rates of unemployment and school leaving. International workcamps motivate our youngsters to be involved and do something for their city, to participate in. They also raise their awareness about international mobility programs and volunteering projects.
The international volunteers have to pay for their flight tickets and the visa-related costs and Cascais provides accommodation, food, local transportation, insurance and a small cultural program to all volunteers involved in the program.
It is the international component that gives sense to the workcamps and motivates our young people to participate in mobility opportunities. But Cascais has also a direct benefit. We recently had a young boy from a neighborhood where we implemented one of our workcamps last year. After the two weeks in the workcamp, every day in contact with international volunteers, he decided to take part in a EVS project [publishers note: EVS = European Voluntary Service].
This is a great achievement and a perfect proof of the impact that this kind of projects can have in the youngsters.
Last year we fixed and renovated wooden benches and tables, we installed a pergola and a barbecue and we changed completely a unused green area by installing fitness equipment for the community.
Not exactly, because each workcamp lasts only two weeks and the maintenance after the project is done by the local urban workers during the rest of the year. Moreover, we still need landscape architects and engineers. Urban workers support us before and during the workcamp to have the work done as professionally as possible.
Again and the last time: It's not about saving. It's an investment of the Municipality. If they wanted to save, they wouldn't finance the workcamps. And of course we are not making international youngsters pay to come and help. That's not our way to do things.
The point is the impact on young people. Instead of hanging around, they start to do something productive for their city. They pick up some English and make international friendships in an incredibly positive and safe environment. In the end, partipants finally feel proud of themselves. They feel proud for the contribution they made to their community.
No, I came to Cascais to do my EVS, five years ago. After the EVS I came back to my city in Spain. One year ago Rota Jovem proposed me to come back to help them to coordinate the workcamps. That’s how I'm here again.
It is a huge opportunity to be taken into serious consideration by your mayor, the city councils and the head of the local youth office. Send them to us. We convince them.
This interview is shortended. Find the complete version here. here
Are you interested in joining an international work camp in Cascais or invest as a community in workcamps? Find more information on LINK or contact Elena through email@example.com.
In Germany the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth subsidizes international work camps. More information on LINK
Interview and photo by Claus Sixt
Cascais, a city with 270.000 inhabitants near Lisbon, is the European Youth Capital 2018. International workcamps are one measure that Cascais uses to support young people. Elena works for the Associação Juvenil Rota Jovem and is the project coordinator for those work camps.