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International Voluntary Services | Mennonite Archival Commons

Name: International Voluntary Services


Historical Note:

International Voluntary Services (IVS) was founded in 1953 with the support of the U.S. Technical Cooperation Agency, today known as USAID.  The U.S. Technical Cooperation Agency sought to foster the development of private voluntary organizations to supply educated volunteers to work in developing countries.  A committee that included Mennonites and Brethren experienced with overseas relief work conceptulaized the organization that ultimately became IVS.

 

The first IVS volunteers were stationed in Egypt in 1954.  Within two years, IVS placed volunteers in Iraq, Laos, Jordan, and Vietnam to work with villagers to improve agricultural production, education, and health.

 

For nearly twenty years, IVS expanded its geographical locations and its projects while remaining dependent upon funding from USAID.  In 1973, IVS was asked to find funding apart from USAID funds.  In spite of its financial problems, the organization continued to grow, beginning programs in Bangladesh, Ecuador, Bolivia, and other countries and expanding its services to include disaster relief.

 

In the 1980s and 1990s, IVS began consolidating programs and placing volunteers as workers with non-government organizations.  Attempts to restructure the organization financially were unsuccessful, as IVS metamorphosized from a grassroots volunteer organization into an agency that administered sub-grants on behalf of USAID.

 

In its final years, much IVS work focused on AIDS education and prevention in southeast Asia.  By the late 1990s, however, only three strong programs remained: Ecuador, Bolivia, and Bangaldesh.  Before the dissolution of IVS, these programs were converted into national NGOs.  IVS was dissolved in 2003.

Sources: See "International Voluntary Services, 1953-2003" in the Publication Series of this collection.
Note Author: Colleen McFarland





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