Our History

Service Civil International (SCI) 

Peace is neither a break between wars nor a wish list. It is a vision built on practical international voluntary social work. “Deeds and not words!” With this motto about 100 years ago, in 1920, started the modern international volunteering movement that organized the first international workcamp in the village of Esnes near Verdun, France, a village leveled by bombings during the First World War where one of the deadliest battles of the war in 1916 took place.

The team of the first international volunteers was established on the initiative of Swiss engineer and pacifist Pierre Cerésole, former Secretary General of International Movement for Reconciliation (IMR) and then co-founder of Service Civil International (SCI). Together with the British Quaker Hubert Paris they coordinated a group of ten volunteers: Two Swiss (Pierre Cerésole and his brother Ernest, a Swiss Army officer), one British (Hubert Paris), two Dutch (one German woman) and a Hungarian.

Kinisi Ethelonton SCI Hellas The first action of SCI volunteers in Greece was recorded in 1944, after the end of World War II, when the British branch organized the deployment of 23 volunteers to various parts of Greece who engaged in child care.
Until 1962, foreign branches of SCI (mainly the Swiss) organized various volunteer activities in Greece, but without the participation of Greek volunteers. SCI volunteers worked after the 1954 earthquake in Cephalonia and in various villages of Epirus from 1958-1961 mainly building water supply systems.

In 1962 a Greek SCI team was established for the first time under the name of “International Voluntary Services” (DEI). This association independently organized about 15 international volunteer workcamps, in collaboration with SCI, in the years 1962-1964, when it was dissolved under the pressure of the climate of the time and following that its archive was seized by the Security Services.

Until 1983 there was no SCI activity in Greece. That year the German branch organized a memory program at the village of Kalavryta on the subject of peace and reconciliation. This program also includes Greeks, who are at the core of the “Volunteer Movement for International Peace and Social Solidarity – SCI Greece”, which was established in 1987 as a group of SCI in Greece and gained branch status in 1992. It was renamed and in “Service Civil International Hellas” in 2004. Since 1987 until today SCI Hellas has been operating continuously promoting informal intercultural education and peace education, organizing international short-term voluntary projects (workcamps) or long term projects and helping to send volunteers from Greece to related programs all around the world.