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European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.


AFS-Natuurhulpcentrum Opglabbeek

EVS Accreditation Details
EVS accreditation type
EVS accreditation expiry date 28/11/2014
Location Opglabbeek, Belgium
Organisation topics
Inclusion topics
Social difficulties
Cultural differences

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 activities, 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.
Opglabbeek is a small village of 10.000 inhabitants, situated 10 km from Genk, a city of 80.000 inhabitants and 20 km from Hasselt, the Capital of the province Limburg. Most of the people in the community are working in small entreprises of different activities. Opglabbeek, 90 km east of Brussels, and 15 km west from the borders with the Netherlands and Germany, is in Belgium well-known for its woods and eco-tourism.
A foreign volunteer will give the possibility for cultural exchanges between our 15-25 local young volunteers (18-20 years) and the EVS volunteer. This is very important. If a person learns to know an other culture, he/she can understand this culture better. It would give the possibility for intercultural learning. This would be very enriching for us and the volunteer.
Further on it is a good stimulant for the local volunteers. An international volunteer will have a stimulating and motivating effect on the local volunteers because they will feel international appreciated for the job they are doing. Next to this it will be interesting to exchange information about dealing with volunteers.
The volunteer will work together with local people, so he/she will have the opportunity to really integrate him/herself. So he/she can get to know the culture deeply.

It will be very interesting for the volunteer and the wildlife hospital to exchange information about their vision about a wildlife rescue center, about taking care of animals. There can be cultural differences. So they can learn of each other. It could also be that the EVS volunteer has some contacts in his/her home country with similar wildlife hospitals. This could also be interesting.
The volunteer will have here also the possibility to learn about wild animals.

As our organization is a wildlife rescue centre, our aims are to take care of weakened wild animals, brought into the centre by local people or collected by the volunteers. Cured animals are replaced to nature.
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 for the volunteers.
The volunteer will be involved in the daily running of the centre. This means:
- assistance to medical care of fractures and wounds ( 5%)
- feeding (45%):
- maintenance of accommodations ( 10%),
- cleaning of cages and fence (35%),
- assistance in organisation of activities for instance fundraising,
- educational programs,... ( 5%).
 Try to make people more aware of the environment by education or actions to restore the nature.
 F.e. wanderings: a fox wandering: an adventurous evening walk in the forests of Opglabbeek. During this walk the participants will meet several fairy tail alike animals who will offer something to eat or drink or who will give a task. If the participant does all the tasks well, he/she can win a little price.
 For schools: a guided walk in the center.
 F.e. information about feeding the birds in the winter (give information on their website and in a brochure).
The reason for the percentages of the tasks: Because the tasks of the volunteers would be differentiated and as interesting as possible, the volunteer will have the possibility to do all the tasks that are done in the Wildlife Rescue Center, like all the others. The percentages reflect the amount of time that is spent in the Wildlife Hospital at these tasks. All the people that are working there, except of the administration, are having the same distribution of tasks.

The volunteer will receive training for the tasks.

Learning potential:
- The volunteer learns to know the names, the habits, the history, the food… of the wild animals in the center.
- The volunteer learns how to take care of hurt animals: what to do when an animal is hurt and arrived in the center (f.e. first of all, the center puts the animal in the dark, because they experienced a lot of stress and dark rooms makes them calm).
- The volunteer learns how to calm down animals in panic or animals in pain.
- The volunteer learns to know which accommodation is convenient for which animal.
- The volunteer learns about the environment, the nature.
- The volunteer learns the cleaning criteria and the special cleaning methods for the cages.
- The volunteer learns how to rescue wild animals who are in difficult situations, f.e. a roe in a garden.
- The volunteer learns how to raise little wild animals that don’t have a mother any more, how to feed them, what they should do to keep them warm…
- The volunteer learns how to work together with others. He/she will develop conversation techniques, skills about working in a group, will learn how a group reacts, and the different flows in a group.
- The volunteers learns to work together with other organizations, like the police (f.e. when a wild animal is signalised on a road and they have to go to catch it).
- The volunteer learns how to give information to others, f.e. when a class of children comes to visit the center.

Intercultural aspect and added value of a foreign volunteer:
- The volunteer learns how the local people deal with nature, what their vision is on nature, on the problem of the environment, what the politics are about nature, how they handle wild animals. The local people on the other hand will be able to make contact with the culture of the volunteer. How he/she sees the different nature aspects.
- The volunteer will be able to learn more about the dynamics of working with volunteers in the Belgian culture. The local people on the other hand will have the opportunity to learn more about the dynamics in the culture of the volunteer.
- By working together with the local people, the volunteer will be able to make a deeply contact with the Belgian culture. To make contact with the visible things, like the food, the clothes, the music, but also with the invisible things like the opinions, the values. The local people on the other hand will be able to make deeply contact with the culture of the volunteer because they will work very close together. So they will also have the opportunity to make contact with the visible and the invisible things of the culture.
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.

Volunteer profile: wanting to be involved in the daily operations of the centre, having a real motivation in all kinds of tasks, to like animals and wanting to work for animals in a realistic way.
The recruitment will be done by 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.

Special needs (if applicable):
If your placements are open to hosting volunteers with fewer opportunities, please provide information about the competence, experience and infrastructure and (human or other) resources available in your organisation to accommodate and support them.

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.
Regarding manipulation of wildlife, the volunteer will have an intern formation about manipulation of wildlife, to guarantee safety. If necessary, the organisation will provide protective materials like gloves etc. The volunteer will have an additional intern formation about hygienic protocols to ensure safety regarding possible biohazard.
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

Wildlife Hospital Natuurhulpcentrum has been working with AFS as coordinating host organisation since the end of 2001. In 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Wildlife Hospital Natuurhulpcentrum has hosted one participant a year.
In the future Wildlife Hospital Natuurhulpcentrum is willing to host new participants, together with AFS as coordinating host organisation, and host one (preferably 2) participants yearly, for 6 months (February-August).

Description of the organisation

Wildlife Hospital is a wildlife rescue centre. Every year it helps around 7000 birds and wild animals which are brought to the centre or collected by an animal rescue team. As our organisation is a wildlife rescue centre, our aims are to take care of weakened wild animals, brought into the centre by local people or collected by the volunteers. Cured animals are replaced into nature. Conform to the non profit principles of the association, we have some staff but a lot more volunteers.

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

Last update: 22/11/2011