Author Topic: Revamping VAC  (Read 3044 times)

Offline ZambiaVAC

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Revamping VAC
« on: August 27, 2014, 07:20:43 AM »
Hello everyone,

Greetings from Zambia!  In the past few months, my fellow co-chair and I have been discussing Zambia's VAC and its successes and challenges.  Recently Zambia received a new CD, Head of Program and Training, and DMO, and suffice to say, there's been a few changes.  We've noticed an increase of communication from Admin to volunteers, but less so the other way and we would like to fix that.

I am unfamiliar with the practices of VAC in other countries, but here is how it has worked in Zambia: Every 6 months, each province in Zambia holds a provincial meeting with the province's volunteers, and during the meeting, VAC records volunteer issues.  Directly afterwards VAC meets with Admin to work on those issues.  We return and send mass emails, post the resolutions of the issues, and talk with everyone we can. 

This has worked decently in the past, but we have been increasingly swamped by individual concerns of a vocal minority. Unfortunately, volunteers reach out only at the provincial meetings, creating a long list of individual concerns rather than issues that affect many.  This overwhelms VAC during the admin meetings, leading to little resolution.

While my co-chair and I are throwing ideas back and forth, trying to create a more communicative system that functions well for everyone, I'd like to ask two questions: 
What works well in your countries? What needs improvement? 

Feel Free,

Joe Crockett
VAC Co-Chair, Zambia
Peace Corps Volunteer

Pete Tomczik

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Re: Revamping VAC
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2014, 02:17:42 PM »
Hello Joe,

Our VAC here in Jamaica meets quarterly with staff and before each quarterly meeting we make individual phone calls to all PCVs on island.  After the quarterly calls, we as VAC discuss all issues that were brought to us, decided on an agenda and submit that agenda to staff.  Staff will give some immediate feedback on what will or will not be discussed (whereabouts policy complaints is a notorious non-starter) and then we have a meeting.

After the meeting we send out mass emails too, if anything major has changed (it rarely does) we update where necessary. 

Not sure if our system is any better or worse, just wanted to give ya something to compare to.  I think in a perfect world VAC is the official medium through which PCVs can make complaints/suggestions/demands and know they'll be heard in an official capacity.

Lauren Javins

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Re: Revamping VAC
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2014, 03:30:08 AM »
Dear PC Jamaica and PC Zambia,

 I am hailing from PC Mongolia. We are going to bring up an Amendment to our Volunteer Leave Policy, which allows our village-living PCVs to come into the nearest city/town about once a month on a Friday without taking annual leave. Now, that is more information than you need, however, what are island/landlocked country PC Leave requests like? Do people live in villages that could possibly be 3-5 hours away from the nearest internet resource?

Thanks, Lauren

Offline shawn

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Re: Revamping VAC
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2014, 05:09:36 AM »
Joe et al,

We experienced this exact phenomena in Rwanda upon the creation of our own VAC.

The way we were bale to deal with it was to remind Volunteers that the VAC is not the only way to have your grievances heard or to raise issues, and VAC should not be replacing the "normal" process for PCVs to address their individual concerns or situation with staff.

As a VAC member and then as a PCVL, I loved the ability to go to bat for a PCV or for PCVs, but the reality was that it was time-consuming and counter-effective for a VAC member to take up the committee's time with an issue facing 1 Volunteer. We'd just remind that if they have a concern facing just them (after we'd make sure it affected just them) they should take that up the appropriate staff member. Our VAC was mostly for finding was the better the volunteer process on a larger scale than an individual's grievances.
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council