Right now there are 3 EVS-Volunteers in Daugavpils which are coordinated by ODIN/VITA. Louisa is from Germany and works at the RFZ (Regionales Fortbildungszentrum für deutsche Sprache und Landeskunde) at the University of Daugavpils, Telmo from Portugal works in the youth center Fortuna and I, Claudia, am from Germany and work in the office of ODIN/VITA. This blog will give you an insight in our lifes as volunteers. But what exactly does EVS mean?
What is EVS?
EVS is a project of the European Commission that gives people from 18-30 years the opportunity to work as a volunteer in another (mostly European) country. There are two types of servies: A short term lasts up to 6 months and a long term is between 6 and 12 months long.
The themes of the projects are very various: There is culture, youth, sports, children, cultural heritage, arts, animal welfare, environment and development cooperation. So also the projects themselves are really different from each other.
Who is part of EVS?
First there is the volunteer. He or she is the one that is going to another country than her/his current residence. The person works for up to one year in the chosen project.
The sending organisation is the organisation in your current country that takes care that you get all the information needed about the project and that you fill out all the forms needed. They also take care of your insurance for your time abroad. Also they often provide a training (pre-departure training) where you get prepared for your service and also meet other people that are going abroad.
The coordinating organisation is often the same a your hosting organisation. They take care mainly off all the financial aspects concerning your project.
The hosting or receiving organisation is the organisation you are finally working in. They will give you the tasks and also support you in your own organized project.
The mentor is a local who is (at best) not working in your hosting organisation. He or she will have some meetings with you and talk about your progress. And hopefully your mentor will also show you the city, the culture and the country.
What is included in the EVS?
The European Commission supports every volunteer with some money because officially your service is not paid. In this money your travel costs to the hosting country and later back home are covered. You get from your organisation a flat and usually a ticket for public transport. Besides this you get money for food and drinks and some pocket money, which you can use for example for travelling across the country. In each country you get a different amount of pocket money, for Latvia it is 80€ right now. And then you also get money which you can use for planning your own project or participating in other volunteers projects.
In the most countries you get a language course. It depends on your contract how many hours you can learn the language of your hosting country.
To get information about EVS, reflect on your project and also get in contact with other volunteers in the country there are trainings. In Latvia there is an on-arrival training shortly after you arrived where you go with your mentor. In the middle of your service there is the second training called mid-term training. This time you go there without your mentor.
In the end of your service you have the possibility to create a Youth Pass. This Pass includes the skills you learned and trained during your service abroad. You also get a certificate that states that you did EVS.
And of course you can experience a new city, a new country, a new culture and make new friends that will hopefully last your whole life 🙂
How to become a volunteer?
There are different ways to make a voluntary service. The most common way is to use the Database (https://europa.eu/youth/evs_database) and search for projects you like. Then you send your motivation letter and your CV to the projects you like and wait for an answer. In the mean time you can search for a possible sending organisation which you can also find in the database.
There are also various sending organisations where you can apply. They are then searching inside their own database for partner projects that could fit with your profile. You then have to apply for them and wait again if they can host you or not.
Also you can find on social media like Facebook and also on the website of organisations itself sometimes a call for volunteers. Then you can contact them directly.
More information can be found on the official website of the European Commission: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/youth/programme/action2_en.php
Volunteers of Rēzekne also made a video which summarize all the main information really good. You can take a look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlQENbGLOTE
Written by: Claudia (Germany)