"We are here to help those conferences that just could not go on if they had to shoulder the burden of every cost. Of course that will need professional services and ours may well be just to complement these. Often we work hand in hand with professional conference organisers, we are not an alternative way of doing things," said Ms Krebs.
Last summer's major international social development event, Geneva 2000, was typical of the IC Volunteer's mandate. A conference about the developing world, held in a seriously expensive corner of Europe.
"There were thousands of delegates in Geneva for that event and our volunteers were invaluable,' she continued. "Sometimes it's just a guiding hand that is needed, sometimes it's receiving delegates and reporting on meetings." Volunteers even take their work home with them - as part of the Geneva Host initiative. Here a host family will offer a home from home to a delegate who cannot afford local hotel tariffs. "For a delegate from the developing world, paying SFr. 150 a night to stay in Geneva is just not an option. If we can help then it might enable someone to speak at that meeting who would otherwise been forced to abandon their trip," said Ms Krebs.
Criteria for IC Volunteer aid are that the meeting or event must have a humanitarian theme or concern a project with social impact. It must be non-profit making and show a tight budget. "Our mission is to help with subjects that are important for our society". It is also one of the roles of the ICVolunteers to raise the profile of such issues and to promote an exchange of ideas," she continued. "We are currently involved in a lot of different fields and it's very exciting. Last summer we worked at the UN General Assembly and at a Forum organised by the Swiss government. Next month we go to a conference in St. Petersburg, Russia and later this year to South Africa for the International Conference Against Racism." Launching the Swiss initiative for the International Year former President of Switzerland Adolf Ogi described how he had worked as a student volunteer to help prepare ski pistes in Kandersteg. He did it for the good of the community, he said, for tourism and in the vague hope that he'd get a free lift pass... Well, they do say charity begins at home.
Volunteers receive only basic out of pocket expenses, yet are a shining example of what can be achieved given the mandate.
"We don't have a typical volunteer. There are 40 nationalities represented and we estimate that there are probably 50 different languages spoken. It is quite a resource."- Viola Krebs, Founder, ICV