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European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.


AFS-vzw Matthijs

EVS Accreditation Details
EVS accreditation type
EVS accreditation expiry date 18/11/2014
Location Ieper, 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.
The host organisation is situated in Ieper.
By the fusion of the communities (1977) Ieper expanded with the partcommunities Boezinge, Brielen, Dikkebus, Elverdinge, Hollebeke, Sint-Jan, Vlamertinge, Voormezele, Zillebeke en Zuidschote. Ieper counts about 35.400 inhabitants and area of 13.042 ha. Ieper belongs to the Northern Low Plain and has a hight site of 19,84 meter. In the South East the relief goes to 63 meter, in the zone of the Ieperbow. At the Nord the height goes under 10 meter, to the valley of the Ijzer. The city is the head quarter of the administrative and juridic community.
Ieper was a very important city in the First World War. From august 1914 on the city was shot and lead to ruines for four year long. 500.000 soldiers died in Ieper and surrounding. They are burried on about 170 military cemetries. The rebuilding of the completely ruined city took more than 40 years.
Ieper is very well known for the “Last Post”. Every evening, since 1928, at 8 pm the “Last Post” is happening under the Menenpoort. This memorial carries the names of 54.896 missing soldiers from the British Imperium of these days. All the names from the beginning of the war till 15 august 1917 are mentioned. The missing soldiers from the 16th of august 1917 n are mentioned on the panels of the Tyne Cot Cemetery in Passendale. It counts 34.984 names.
But Ieper is so much more than only the first World War. There are plenty of opportunities:
- Walking in Ieper and its surroundings : Ieper offers numerous walking possibilities : take the Heritage Footpath through the centre, go for the Ramparts route on the Vauban Ramparts of Ieper or discover the Natural Reserve The Palingbeek.
- Cycling in Ieper: Cycling is a joy in different parts of Ieper : along the canal Ieper-Yzer, the hilly track along the Palingbeek or simply through Ieper Salient. Choose your favourite cycling route, rent a bicycle and off you go!
- Cats Festival : Every three years in the heart of the city with a fabulous street parade.
- Sports: Ieper offers various sports facilities : swimming pool, golf, rowing and an overall sports centre.
The project Matthijs vzw is located in the suburbs of Ieper, on 1km walkingdistance from the trainstation of Ieper.
We want to give the opportunity to the volunteer to assist and to get in contact with children and youth with a mental handicap. They can compare the methods that are used overhere with the methods that they know from their own country. We can share opinions, ideas and integrate them. So the volunteer can learn of the project, but the project can also learn of the volunteer. So it means a surplus for both parties!
In Matthijs vzw the volunteer will get in touch with 20 members of the staff en with several children and youth with a mental handicap. So the volunteer will get to know the Flemish culture through real contacts with the local people.
On the other hand it will be an enrichment for all the members of the staff and all the clients to get in contact with a different culture. So we can learn from each other, get more insight in each others habits and culture and create more respect.
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.
Vzw Matthijs finds it very important that the volunteer can chose him/herself what he/she would like to do. So they are very open for own projects and flexible about the tasks. The volunteer can do this projects alone or together with other people at the organisation. The important thing is that the volunteer would be interested in the work he/she does. He/she can combine several projects that he/she is interested in. Of course, these projects need to be in harmony with the goals and the mission of the organisation.
Vzw Matthijs will help the volunteer to discover what he/she would like to do or to initiate. When the volunteer arrives, there will be a meeting to talk this over. There will be several evaluationmoments after this so that the volunteer will have the opportunity to change tasks, or to ask more. The volunteer can work always under supervision. Of course it is very usefull and interesting for the volunteer to get to know first the different aspects of the working of vzw Matthijs. The volunteer will get this possibility.

So depending on the expectations of the volunteer an adjusted program will be made.

There are two different areas in which the volunteer can work, namelijk accompaniment and logitics. He/she can chose to work in one of them or to combine them. The proposition is 70% accompaniment and 30 % logistics. Vzw Matthijs has already the following suggestions (but the volunteer also can do something totally different):
1. Accompaniment.
- Guide the children when they are brought home with the bus at the end of the day.
- Help the children with their food at noon or at three o’clock.
- Join activities with the children, f.e. playing on the playground, having a walk together with other educators, joining the swimming session…
- Prepare the children to go home and guide them while they are brought home.
- Gather information about other possible activities with the children and implement them in cooperation with other members of the staff. For example some little games that may be played with the children, some creative workshops.
- Attend the classes of the children. Help the teacher. Develop new ideas in this area to help the children to learn.
- …
2. Logistics.
- Helping with the cook to prepare the meals at noon, such as cleaning the vegetables. The volunteer can then also propose to cook something that is typical for his/her country.
- General maintenance of the building.
- Do the shopping
- Desinfect the toys the children are playing with
- Help to take care of the garden and the playground.
- …

The working hours are between 7.30 am and 5 pm (6 pm for driving a bus). Together with the mentor, the volunteer can decide which working hours would be the best.
We never work at weekends. There is always a closing time three weeks in the summer holidays. We prefer that the volunteer will take holidays also during this periods.

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.
Some general recruitment criteria applying for volunteer candidates are social, easyly making contacts, motivated to work in a therapeutical setting.
It is also important that the volunteer knows how to work with children. A pedagogical background is an advantage.
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.
When the volunteer should be pregnant she cannot do the work with the children anymore if she doesn’t have immunity for the cytomegalic virus. Vaccination against hepatitis A and B is recommended.
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

Matthijs vzw has been working with AFS as coordinating host organisation since 2004.
In the past years they have hosted several EVS-participants (each for 6 months).
In the future Matthijs vzw 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

Vzw Matthijs was created through a private initiative. Our non-profit organisation provides day care for children and youngsters with multiple handicaps. Our geographical scope covers the large area around Ieper and we can host 20 children (from 0 till 21 year). We are unique in the area by providing an alternative for boarding establishments or for full home care of these children in high need for medical assistance. We are a pluralistic and fully autonomous organisation.
Our regular activities are on the one hand special education and nursing of children and youngsters with mental and eventually additional handicaps (e.g. motor, behaviour). An important task of the staff are also logistic tasks (help in the kitchen, driving the bus, maintance of the building and site,…).

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 www.vzwmatthijs.be
Telephone number +32 15 79 50 10
Fax number +32 15 79 50 11

Last update: 08/12/2011