CIVA pioneered visits by people from the South to look at social issues in the UK and compare ideas and actions taken to address these issues with what they were doing back home. Over the years, CIVA organised:
- Poverty and social exclusion: Stan and Mari Theakakera, founders of ACCORD, a tribal people’s development agency based in Gudalur in the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, South India, visited projects in Dudley, Easterhouse and Manchester. The story of the visit is published in “Across the Geographical Divide” available from CIVA. The outcomes included Stan playing a leading role in the Oxfam UK Poverty Programme and eventually becoming a Trustee of Oxfam GB, and making a presentation to the Social Exclusion Unit about the need to take a longer time perspective when planning development programmes.
- Housing: Sheela Patel, founder of SPARC which is based in Mumbai and works across India in partnership with the National Slum Dwellers Association, visited housing estates Birmingham, Coventry, Easterhouse and Waltham Forest. One outcome was a partnership developed between Groundswell in the UK, SPARC in India and Slumdwellers International in South Africa. Groundswell took a group of homeless people on an exchange visit to Mumbai. The story of the visit is published in “From the Slums of Bombay to the Housing Estates of Britain” available from CIVA.
- Peace: Paul Temba Nyathi accompanied by Jeremy Brickhill, leading members of the emerging Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe, visited projects in Northern Ireland hosted by the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust to explore strategies for moving from a culture of violence to a culture of peace.
- Girls growing up in a modern world: CIVA facilitated a two-way exchange which was funded by the Commonwealth Youth Foundation between young girls if the Nadya Asian girls project of the National Theatre and young girls associated with the Bangalore Little Theatre.