What is EVS?
EVS – European Voluntary Service – is a project funded by the European Union that allows you to live in a foreign country and carry out full time voluntary service in a local organization. The only requirement is that you have to start the project between the age of 17 and 30. EVS is open to everyone regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or financial wealth (I describe the financial aspects of the project further in the article). Also, no specific level of education is required from the candidates. All of this together makes EVS the real program of equal chances, no matter what your social background is and what access to education you’ve had. This year the EVS program celebrates its 20th anniversary.
What is participation in the project like?
As I mentioned, as an EVS program participant you’ll get the chance to live abroad and work for a local NGO (the hosting organization). Your exact duties are will vary depending on the profile of the organization that is hosting you and on the project they are running. Volunteers can be active in many fields like life-improvement of socially disadvantaged groups, young people’s socio-educational development, environmental protection and ecology, permaculture, artistic and cultural expression and much more. I believe that in EVS you can find a project you’re interested in or that you dream about =). To find it, check one of the following databases of projects seeking participants and hosting organizations:
- Salto-Youth platform – this is where I found my EVS
- EVS vacancy Facebook group (public)
After finding an exciting project and hosting organization, you need to find a sending organization from your country. EVS is always based on a triangular partnership: the sending organization – you as a volunteer – the hosting organization. The duration of each project is up to one year, depending on your agreement. You can volunteer in the European Union as well as outside of Europe.To learn more about the opportunities, check the list of program partner countries.
What is your contribution at the beginning?
And here we come to the point where your effort matters. After you’ve found your perfect project, you have to apply for it. You should be aware that there’s a lot of people looking for their EVS, so the more effort you put into your application, the more chance you’ll be accepted. Maybe a short movie that introduces your candidacy would distinguish you from others? My friend who did her EVS in Georgia made a stop-motion animation as an alternative to a traditional covering letter. To get my EVS in Sweden I created a simple website that my organization could surf to learn more about my candidacy. So be creative and hard-working!
You can efficiently increase your chances by filling a vacancy at the last moment. You can find ‘urgent calls’ for volunteers on the ‘EVS vacancy’ Facebook group I already mentioned.
What are the conditions of EVS?
EVS doesn’t discredit people with fewer opportunities and is open to everyone. It means that by participating in this program, you’re going to be provided with accommodation, food, insurance, pocket money, travel expenses up to a particular limit (the limit depends on the distance between your country and the country of your EVS - ask your sending or hosting organization what your limit would be), personal support from a mentor, language support and a discount card. You will also receive a Youth Pass certificate that will be helpful for finding future employment.
I know lots of people who complain about their lack of key competences or the experience required to find a job in their country or abroad. I also know lots of people who complain that they have no money for travelling. EVS is the solution for these two problems.
It was my dream to take part in EVS since I first heard about it a few years ago. I simply found the idea beautiful and I was inspired that literally everyone is welcome to join the program, despite any social and personal difficulties. This week I’m going to start my EVS in Sweden and my project is connected to permaculture and simple living. If you want to know more about my project or EVS in general, follow my blog on OpenBooks.com
Watch the story of Mina, a Kurdish refugee now living in Denmark. Mina shares her experience of supporting refugees during her EVS in Belgium.