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European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.


AFS-Oriëntatie-en observatiecentrum Steenokkerzeel

EVS Accreditation Details
EVS accreditation type
EVS accreditation expiry date 18/11/2014
Location Steenokkerzeel, Belgium
Organisation topics
Inclusion topics

EVS accreditation number


For more information about volunteering and European Voluntary Service in particular, visit the Voluntary Activities section of this website.

Please note, information about organisations and projects is only available in English.
Project Environment

Project environment:
Outline the project environment for the suggested voluntary Service, including the local community where the project will take place (e.g. geographical, social and economical environment). If the host placement is located in a live-in community, please include the rules and conditions that apply also for the volunteer.
Fedasil’s mission is to organise the humane, efficient, flexible and high-quality reception of asylum seekers in Belgium. The humane and respectful treatment of asylum seekers has first consideration. The number of asylum applications can vary sharply depending on the international political and economic situation. As an efficient and flexible organisation, Fedasil must be quick at repartee to anticipate and respond to changing reception needs. Finally, the quality of reception must at the very least comply with European standards.
In January 2001 the federal government decided that asylum seekers would receive material support only in reception structures. Previously they had also received financial support. The creation of Fedasil is a consequence of that decision.
Fedasil has since 2005 been assigned a fresh task:
• coordinating reception of unaccompanied foreign minors

The centre in Steenokkerzeel is the first reception centre in Belgium for unaccompanied foreign minors (UFA). Those minors are not necessarily asylum seekers. The UFA are youngsters who arrive unaccompanied by parents or other adult relatives in Belgium. These minors left their country of origin and their family, and ended up by theirselves or with “strangers” in Belgium. These youngsters have several characteristics in common: they are alone, they speak a different language, they grew up in another culture, they are minor (usually adolescent), they left their country of origin and the fact that their stay in Belgium is temporary, makes their situation very uncertain.
The minors can stay in the centre for 14 days, the duration can be prolonged till maximum one month. We have a maximum capacity of 50 persons. This brief accomodation has several consequences. The youngsters are not enrolled as students in a school. We do want to make their day look like a day of an average Belgian minor. This means that the centre organises several activities during the day. Intensive language courses help the youngsters to express themselves and to communicate with Belgian people. In courses about general social orientation subjects they learn the elementary things about our society. Sports related activities serve as a positive release. We also set up workshops and we organise excursions to Belgian places of interest.
The centre has three big responsibilities.
1. gathering of information: in close consultation with the partner services, we try to find out if the youngster is indeed a minor, if the minor has or can receive identity papers, if the youngster is indeed unaccompanied.
2. observation: we try to create an image of the lifestory of every youngster by observing them in activities and consultation.
3. orientation: together with the caretaker we search the most suited residence for the minor.
Steenokkerzeel is situated near Brussels. It is a rather small community that can be reached by bus from Brussel North. There are not so many possibilities to go out.
The nearest big cities are Brussels(capital) and Leuven( a students city). Brussels is the capital of Belgium and it is the political and economical centre of the country. Also a lot of European Administrations are based in Brussels, which makes it a very multicultural city. In Brussels the two official languages are Dutch and French.
Brussels is easily reachable by public transport. The city has three main train stations. The public transport is well organised.

AFS, the coordinating organisation, will provide a host family for the participant, as we strongly believe that this is the best introduction to the Flemish culture and a great opportunity to integrate in the local community. The host family will provide lodging and food. They will be living close to the project and will be Dutch-speaking. AFS encourages the host family to use Dutch as a communication language with the volunteer, to help him/her to practise the Dutch language.

Proposed activities for EVS volunteers:
Please explain:
• what you can offer to volunteers in terms of Service and learning opportunities,
• what will be the role of EVS volunteers in the Host Organisation,
• the activities in which the volunteers could be involved and the activities the volunteers could create in your organisation. Please give examples of typical activities/tasks for the volunteers.
The volunteer will be given the opportunity to work in an international environment for a longer period of time. He/she can attain knowledge about the specifics procedures for minors in Belgium, he/she works together with a multidisciplinary team, he/she attains lifewisdom by contact with the residents of the centre.
We work already in an international environnement and are interested to see how foreign volunteers deal with the specific problems of the issue of the minors.
We believe that hosting an EVS volunteer is a benefit for us (the staff and the minors) as well for the volunteer.
We are used to the Belgian structures. For us a foreign volunteers mean a new perspective, a new vision. For the minors it is a sign that we are internationally interested. This can already have a positive effect by their arrival in the centre.
The issue of asylumseekers and refugees is momentary very actual in Europe. It would be interesting to show the Belgian policy about asylum seekers to the foreign volunteer. This is interesting for the volunteer too. We can talk about the differences in each others country. This can be very enriching for both parties!
Everything you will do (classes, activities, individual contact with minors) has to be seen in the light of the role of the centre – observing the minors, getting to know them well, to be able to give them a good orientation after one month. Also, it requires being a good educator, since you help them rebuild a daily routine.
1. education 35% : giving language classes every morning (teaching Dutch for beginners, or teaching illiterate minors the alphabet)– extra study help– general social orientation subjects – being an educator in the sense of teaching the minors to keep their room tidy, teaching social skills, learning them to get up / go to bed in time, following the daily routine and the rules of the centre, dealing with conflicts between minors … - by assisting them in daily life, together with the other social assistants.
2. recreation 35%: sports – creative events – activities for specific target groups (girls,…) - every afternoon we organise activities for the minors.
3. ‘domestic’ tasks 20%: following up logistics (waking up of the minors, opening/closing of the rooms) – helping out with registration and distribution of meals
4. individual assistance 10%: every social worker has a closer contact with a certain number of minors. Every week several hours are spent for individual counsel and for listening to worries of the minors. The volunteer will also be encouraged to seek a closer contact with some of the minors who live here, if possible and/or desired, to share observations with the social workers.
5. Average of 30 hours a week
• We work in shifts, from 8 am to 4 pm and from 2 pm to 10 pm. We expect the volunteer to work also in shifts – beforehand, it is important to look wit AFS that it is possible to reach the centre with public transport or by bike.
• Evening hours: you will work evening shifts from time to time.
• Weekends: sometimes you can be asked to work during a weekend day.
AFS, the coordinating organisation, will provide Dutch language lessons for the volunteer. These lessons will be given by an experienced teacher and will be organised in a central place that is easy to reach by public transport. The lessons will be organised weekly in the first weeks of the project.

Volunteer profiles and recruitment process:
Please describe the profiles of volunteers you would like to receive in your organisation. Include information on how you ensure an open and transparent recruitment process as well as the overall accessibility of EVS to all young people. Consider further information about the type of Sending Organisation you want to cooperate with. This information can help the match-making between volunteer candidates, Sending Organisations and your organisation.
We expect from a volunteer the ability to cope with possible difficulties having to do with the specific characteristics of the group. This group of people is an amalgam of ages, cultures, languages, religions, backgrounds, problems, … . Therefore the volunteer needs to be open for other cultures and prepared to work with people of other cultures.
The volunteer also needs to be able to work in sometimes very stressful circumstances, to deal in a calm and professional way with incidents and conflicts.
We expect the volunteer to be mature, and to have a feeling for working with minors – an important part of working here requires being a good educator.
It is important the volunteer can communicate well, understands at least English or French, and is willing to learn some Dutch. We work in a team of 30 people, it is necessary to be able to know and use the different ways of communication well (agenda, logboek, observation files,informaton meeting every afternoon) to be able to know what’s going on, what needs to be followed up,…
The volunteer needs to be flexible, and will be expected to work in shifts. Sometimes he/she will work from 9 till 17 o’clock, sometimes from 8 till 4 o ‘clock, sometimes evening shifts till 10 o’clock. There will be a maximum of 30 hours a week.
We also expect some flexibility towards the tasks. A normal day can turn into something completely different because of unexpected things.
The volunteer will have to respect (and undersign) the same houserules as the people who live and work in the refugee centre. A copy of these rules will be given at the beginning of the placement. We also ask the volunteer to respect the professional ethical code for social workers.

The recruitment will be done by our AFS as coordinating host organisation.
AFS, the coordinating host organisation, strongly believes in the intercultural learning aspect of an EVS-experience. Therefore, the volunteer will be living with a volunteer host family, as we believe this is the best introduction to Flemish culture and a great opportunity to integrate in the local community. Candidates should be willing to share in the host family's daily life (spend some free time with them, occasionally join the family on activities outside the house, eat together, give a helping hand in the household... ) and should be motivated to live with and learn about Flemish people of different ages and opinions. They should also be willing to adapt to the local eating habits. On the other hand, we guarantee a family that is interested to learn about your culture and background and that respects your values and beliefs. Living in a host family is an excellent opportunity for both you and the family to broaden your cultural horizons!
Candidates who are not sure this suits their profile are advised to get in touch with someone who has experience with living in a host family. If you already know you prefer to live independently, please refrain from applying for this project.

Number of volunteers hosted:
Please state the maximum number of volunteers your organisation is able to host at the same time (ensuring all quality, learning, and welfare standards of EVS for each volunteer): 1

Risk prevention, protection and safety:
Please describe:
• how you will guarantee a safe living and working environment for the EVS volunteers,
• how you will prevent risks and crises,
• how – in the case of EVS volunteers aged 16 or 17 – you ensure appropriate supervision, protection and safety.
The project will assign a personal mentor / contact person to the participant, so he/she can always ask this person for help or guidance.
AFS, as coordinating host organisation will give every project and every participant a local contact person, that will stay in contact and will regularly ask for an evaluation to improve the situation for all parties. In case of emergency, AFS has an emergency-mobile phone, which can be reached 24h/24h, in case of emergencies.
AFS will arrange the enrolment of the volunteer in the Group Insurance Plan for EVS, provided by AXA. Next to this we will also ask the project to register the volunteer in the group insurance of the workplace. We will also make sure that the participant has all needed emergency contacts of the project, the host family, the local volunteers and our organisation.

Motivation and EVS experience

Fedasil Steenokkerzeel has been working with AFS as coordinating host organisation since 2002.
In the past years they have hosted several EVS-participant (each for 6 months).
In the future Fedasil is willing to host new EVS-participants, together with AFS as coordinating host organisation, and host one participant yearly, for 6 months (February-July).

Description of the organisation

Fedasil Steenokkerzeel is the first reception centre in Belgium for unaccompanied foreign minors (UFA). Those minors are not necessarily asylum seekers. The UFA are youngsters who arrive unaccompanied by parents or other adult relatives in Belgium. These minors left their country of origin and their family, and ended up by theirselves or with “strangers” in Belgium. These youngsters have several characteristics in common: they are alone, they speak a different language, they grew up in another culture, they are minor (usually adolescent), they left their country of origin and the fact that their stay in Belgium is temporary, makes their situation very uncertain.
AFS is an international, voluntary, non profit organisation that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more peaceful world. AFS does this through several exchange programs, like EVS.
AFS works in cooperation with several AFS partners in more than 50 countries world wide. On a European level we are represented by the European federation for Intercultural Learning.

Contact details
Please note, the selected organisation cooperates with a different EVS organisation to handle enquiries on its behalf.
Organisation name AFS Interculturele Programma's vzw
Street Hendrik Consciencestraat 52
Postal code 2800
Town/city Mechelen
Country Belgium
Email address evs-belgiumflanders@afs.org
Website /
Telephone number +32 15 79 50 10
Fax number +32 15 79 50 11

Last update: 25/02/2014