Lovisa did voluntary work at a women’s residential centre in Strasbourg
Lovisa started working as a volunteer at a residential centre for women with social problems. Many of the women who lived there had been exposed to domestic violence. Some were suffering from mental health problems. Others were undocumented migrants who had been living on the street. At the centre, the women were helped by social workers to find a way to move forwards with their lives. Lovisa’s role at the centre was to organise activities and outings for the women. She also provided the women with support and friendship and helped to look after their children or accompanied them on different types of errands.
– I’ve been interested in women’s rights for a long time, and I think that the work that women’s shelters do is fantastic. I come from a rather “shielded” environment myself and this was really a chance to see a completely different side of society.
Taking the step to choose voluntary work rather than saving money and going on a long holiday may not be the obvious choice for many, but for Lovisa it felt completely natural.
– It feels totally natural to me to involve myself in helping other people. I have grown up with parents who worked with international aid and I have been politically active myself. I also saw voluntary work as a very good opportunity to live abroad, learn French properly, take a break from my studies and at the same time learn a great deal.
What did you learn during your time at the centre?
– I learned a fantastic amount about life, about how difficult life can be for some people, and I think I became less naïve. I also become more open and outgoing socially, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do my job.
Do you have any tips for others who want to do voluntary work but who don’t know how to get started?
– Check out the EVS programme. It’s a great opportunity because neither you as a volunteer nor the organisation that you work for has to pay anything. It also includes courses, both at home in Sweden before you travel and when you get back, and in the country that you work in. This means that you also get the chance to get to know other volunteers, which is fantastic. During my year in France I travelled around a great deal and also visited volunteers in different parts of the country.
Do you want to know about the EVS programme? Check out the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society's website by clicking the link below.
Text: Lucella Bergström