18 Good practice
East Project has existed for almost two decades. During this time, many projects were implemented in South-East Europe and a lot of experience made. You can benefit from this experience, too.
Here is a list with the most important Lessons learned over the past years; they will help you remember key factors during the project planning stage and project implementation and to avoid common mistakes.
- Set up a mentor's programme to attract new people and thus guarantee the continuance and sustainability of the project and partnership. The mentor's programme in the own organisation and partner organisation could work as following: every new volunteer has a seasoned volunteer at their side, to clarify questions or uncertainties and have a direct contact person who can withdraw gradually and hand over responsibility.
- Mutual expectations should be clarified before starting the project through open and transparent communication: What does the Swiss organisation expect from the local partner organisation and vice-versa? What is expected from the individual volunteers and participants?
- A concrete and practical issue should be chosen, i.e. one that participants can identify with and that is compatible with daily life and reality. An abstract or too complex issue cannot be dealt with during the project.
- It is very likely that your organisation and your partner organisation do not speak a common language, so that you will have to communicate in a foreign language such as English. Remember that this will need more time and can lead to more misunderstandings. Also keep in mind that the partner organisation does not literally mean what they are saying, that they might not understand what you are saying, and that intercultural aspects may also play an important role.
- Handing over responsibility: A project should be planned and implemented in such a way that gradually more responsibility can and should be handed over to the partner organisation and the local leaders. For the sustainable local rooting of a project the local youth should be able to develop ownership of the project (it is our project), which can be reached mainly through effective participation and shared responsibility.
- Recognise that reaching the project objectives needs time and that setback may occur. However, it is also important that the people involved and the participants see and experience the progress made; otherwise they might lose their motivation.
- Critical reflection and evaluation: After completion of the project take a moment for open discussion and thinking about the next stage. Ask yourselves: "are we doing the right thing, are we doing it right?" and adapt your project according to the replies.
You will also find more information with the ongoing projects that have been realised thanks to the support of East Project and South Project. If you have any questions about a project, you can get in touch with the project's contact person.
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