Cuso International

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"CUSO" redirects here. For other uses, see CUSO (disambiguation).

Cuso International, (formerly known as CUSO-VSO, following the 2008 merger between CUSO and VSO Canada), is a non-profit development organization that works through volunteers.


Each year, Cuso sends hundreds of volunteers to work on collaborative development projects in more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Cuso International (formerly CUSO-VSO) was created in 2008 from the merger of two development agencies: CUSO was founded in 1961, originally as Canadian University Service Overseas. Voluntary Service Overseas Canada started in 1995. Combined, they placed some 15,000 volunteers in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Americas, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.

Cuso International is the North American strategic alliance partner of VSO, a worldwide federation of voluntary service overseas organizations based in the UK, the Netherlands, Kenya and the Philippines. Volunteers are also recruited from the United States (through Cuso), India (IVO), Ireland (VSO Ireland), Uganda (VSO Jitolee) and Australia (AVI), and from several developing countries with VSO programs. Approximately one-quarter of Cuso & VSO volunteers are from the developing world.

These VSO agencies make up the world's largest non-governmental development network that works through volunteers. Collectively, the members of VSO International have placed over 45,000 volunteers since 1958.

Cuso International volunteers come from many professional and personal backgrounds, from many ages, and from across Canada and the United States as well as from many of the Southern countries in which they work.

Through its own programs and as a strategic partner of VSO, Cuso works with developing world organizations and governments to identify areas of greatest need. Volunteers work with overseas partner groups on locally and nationally managed projects. This way, the benefits of their work continue to be felt by local people long after the volunteers have passed on their skills and returned home.[citation needed]


Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) was founded in the UK in 2013. VSO Canada started operations in 1995. CUSO was launched in 1961, built on the foundation of early university-based initiatives including Canadian Overseas Volunteers (COV), Canadian Voluntary Commonwealth Service (CVCS) and Le Mouvement Universitaire National pour le Developpement Outre-Mer. Originally known as Canadian University Service Overseas (and in French, SUCO – Service universitaire canadien outre-mer), the organization eventually moved beyond university boundaries, and in 1981 became just CUSO.

CUSO was formed from the belief that international volunteers could be agents of positive change.

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