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European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.


AFS Interculturele Programma's vzw

EVS Accreditation Details
EVS accreditation type
EVS accreditation expiry date 30/01/2015
Location Mechelen, Belgium
Organisation topics
Media and communication/Youth information
Inclusion topics
Educational difficulties
Economic difficulties
Health problems

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.
AFS Interculturele Programma’s vzw (‘AFS Belgium Flanders’) works for the entire Flemisch-speaking Community of Belgium (Flanders).
The volunteer will work in the head office of the association that is located in Mechelen.
Mechelen (Mechlin in English) is a Dutch-speaking city and municipality in the province of Antwerp. Mechelen lies on the major urban and industrial axis Brussels-Antwerp, about 25 km from each city.
The office is nearby the railwaystation and is therefor very easy to reach by public transport.
For some activities, the projectplace will be in other places, for example during animation weekends or for the promotion. AFS is a volunteer-based organisation and we work with 14 different local volunteer chapters. So for some activities the volunteer will work ‘in the field’ together with the local AFS volunteers.
AFS 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.

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.

By hosting a volunteer in our organisation, we hope to share another way of work. We are used to work in an international environment, and it is always interesting to share other know-hows and cultures. The aim of the project is also to give the opportunity to a young person to familiarise with the organisation and the backing of activities for young participants or their (host) family in the frame of students and volunteers exchanges. He/she will discover and develop his background in animation and educational tools for an intercultural experience.
As the EVS volunteer will also be in immersion in a new culture, he will have the possibility to compare his own experience with the other participants that he will assist during his EVS project.
As the volunteer will be integrated into the AFS staff, he will be able to measure what are our objectives, the stakes and function mode of such a big exchange organization.
Since AFS is an organization based on the work of AFS volunteers, the EVS volunteer will sometimes be in contact with AFS volunteers who organize different activities for the exchange participants. Consequently, the EVS volunteer will discover another kind of volunteer work.
By working with us, he will have access to all the material and tools required that is used by the employees. He will also benefit from training’s organised for the local volunteers from the association. Throughout the project, the volunteer will improve his Dutch language knowledge and will discover the Belgian and other foreign cultures.
The activities for the volunteer will be a combination of assisting different staff members in the head office in Mechelen and on local activities that are organised for the (sending/hosting) exchange-participants and/or their (host) family. The actual activities will depend on the skills, abilities and interests of the volunteer and the current needs of our organisation at that moment.
In the office, we have a role of coordination of the exchange programs we run. This implies regular contacts with the young participants and their families or host families, with our partners abroad or in Belgium (schools, host organizations…) and with the local AFS volunteers. The evs volunteer will assist the local AFS volunteers from time to time for specific events or projects. The main objective of the EVS’s task will be to assist staff and volunteers for the backing and development of the intercultural sensibilities of the participants at different moments of their stay in Belgium, or before they leave the country. This will be done with the program team, mainly by the preparation and co-animation of intercultural games and activities during animation week-ends or special projects.

The evs volunteer will have opportunities to meet young foreigners taking part in the programs in Belgium. But he will also take part to some steps of the recruitment process that don’t require high responsibilities, to orientation and preparation of young Belgian people who want to go abroad by informing and animating them. This implies regular contacts through telephone, mail or email with the local volunteers and the Belgian participants, and maybe less often direct contacts with them (during information meetings, school or home visits, preparation or evaluation week-ends…)
In our office we have 3 different teams in which the volunteer can assist the staff: the ‘program team’, the ‘volunteer management & training team’ and the ‘promotion team’. Here we give some examples of possible activities that the volunteer might do in one or more of our teams. But it is important to note that the activities of the volunteer will be closely related to his skills, abilities and interests.

Program team:
General support for the coordination of the programs: email contacts with foreign partners to ask or send information about participants and programs; translation of documents (in English, French, Spanish, German…); contacts with embassies in order to check the process for visa application (twice a year); review of application forms to check that nothing is missing and ask for more information if needed…
Assistance to the 18+ coordinator for the search of host organizations for the community service participants: searching organizations in databases, on the web, in social directories, contacting them and then send them documentation, application form, contracts…
Assistance and support to participants on their arrival at the airport
All those activities imply a necessary administrative follow-up in the course of events and projects (phone calls, sending letters or emails, data processing, writing reports, research on the Web…). The volunteer will have his own desk, phone and computer to achieve those tasks.
Remark: the evs will be involved in the activities related to all exchange programs offered by AFS, including the evs program. Though, it is obvious that he won’t be involved in the selection of other evs, nor in coordination or animation of evs national trainings. The selection of all participants (evs and others) is done by the staff, by AFS trained volunteers, and by the host projects. The evs will participate in the evs national trainings as a beneficiary of the evs program. His role towards the evs will be assistance to applicants and staff in contacts, information, promotion…

Volunteer team:
Preparation of activities and co-animation of groups during the weekends or camps organised for the participants (sending and hosting). This will allow the volunteer to learn about the group dynamic, about intercultural animation techniques by observation but also active participation
Co-animation, organisation of cultural activities, logistic assistance for the groups, animation of the evaluation weekends, carrying out and synthesis of the evaluations. The volunteer will learn how to set up and supervise a project from A to Z.

Promotion team:
This part of the task concerns the promotion of the AFS organisation in schools, fairs, public events like festivals… but also in the monthly information meetings we do in our office. Volunteers and staff meet students and present them our programs. The EVS can bring a useful information about his own experience of an experience abroad. The promotion in schools usually starts in September-October.

A small part of the promotion tasks consist in administration related to the tasks described above. It seems to us that it is important that the evs volunteer has a complete view of what is organised and this goes also through sending invitation, letters to thank schools/projects,…

Personal project
We like to propose to the volunteer to set up his own personal project. The theme will be chosen according to the needs of the office and the personal interests and capacities of the volunteer.

Work schedule
The volunteer will mainly work from Monday to Friday (five days a week) from 9-17h. The total working time is limited to 35 hours per week including the attendance of language courses. He will have his own working-place and there will be regular team meetings as well. If there are activities during the weekend the volunteers participate in, he will be able to take those days off during the week-after in order to compensate. During his stay the volunteers are entitled to two days holiday per month (or in a whole). The office is closed between Christmas and new years eve.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Weekend
Breakfast with the host family Breakfast with the host family Breakfast with the host family Breakfast with the host family Breakfast with the host family Free (occasional weekend-work)

Assisting at the AFS office Assisting at the AFS office Assisting at the AFS office Assisting at the AFS office Assisting at the AFS office
Lunch with the colleagues at work Lunch with the colleagues at work Lunch with the colleagues at work Lunch with the colleagues at work Lunch with the colleagues at work
Working on personal project at the office Working on personal project at the office free Working on personal project at the office Working on personal project at the office
Diner with the host family Diner with the host family Diner with the host family Diner with the host family Diner with the host family
Free evening Free evening Free evening Free evening Free evening

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 think that a volunteer who has the following abilities will have more interest in our project, will feel more comfortable and will have more diversity in his/her tasks:

- Easily going with teenagers and young adults groups and interest for human relations, animations and group activities
- Being able to speak in front of large groups
- Open to work in a team, autonomous and resourceful
- Organised and rigour in the set-up of activities

We prefer candidates who already have some kind of experience with intercultural exchanges (for example: former exchange program participants or youngsters whose parents have hosted exchange participanst as hostfamily in the past, active local AFS volunteers from other counties,…)

Potential volunteers are informed of the vacancy through the evs database. A presentation of AFS and standard application form is sent to the candidate volunteers. This way, we have similar information for all candidates, that can be easily compared. AFS always expects several applications before making a selection on the basis of the motivations and profile of the different candidates, in order to choose the most adequate volunteer for the activities in the project. Before confirming the acceptance of a volunteer, we check with him that he understands the content of the project and that he agrees with the tasks we can offer him.

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!

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.
Prevention is managed by regular meetings foreseen with the work supervisor (+/-every 2 weeks), who can also help for the set-up of a personal project. Some special meetings with the whole staff may also take from time to time. The volunteer will participate in them if it is relevant for his integration or his tasks.
A tutor (another staff member) will be available for further follow-up and for meetings with the volunteer in order to help him to overcome the difficulties, to check the progress regarding the objectives of the project.

The volunteer will receive all information and necessary training from the surpervisor and staff before and upon arrival.
The volunteer will have the opportunity to attend a Dutch language course that will allow him to express himself more fluently and will help him to better understand what’s expected from him. When there is an opportunity of training, he will participate .
The volunteer will have two contact persons: a counselor (usually a former exchange participant), who is an AFS volunteer at a local level, and also a tutor in the AFS office. Together, they will support the participant when needed. The AFS volunteer will try to have a regular contact with the EVS during her/his stay (+/-once a month).
In case of conflict/crisis, AFS will organize a mediation and will keep the sending organization informed.
The volunteer will have the same working conditions as the paid staff : the safety standards and work policy will be the same for her/him. According to the belgian law about the harrassment at work, a staff member is appointed to a counselor position for the other staff members, trainees, volunteers,… working in the office.
In case of emergency, AFS has an emergency-mobile phone, which can be reached 24h/24h.
AFS will arrange the enrolment of the volunteer in the Group Insurance Plan for EVS, provided by AXA. Next to this we will also 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 host family, the local volunteers and our organisation.

Motivation and EVS experience

AFS is an international non-governmental non-profit organisation that has been running exchanges for youngsters for many years. The organisation was founded 60 years ago - just after the World War - and aims to provide intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding to act as a responsible global citizen striving for peace and justice in a world full of diversity. “Connecting lives - Sharing Cultures” is our slogan.
AFS has a long tradition in collaborating with the European institutions, especially through our European Federation EFIL (European Federation for Intercultural learning) in terms of advice and input on mobility issues and intercultural education. We also ran pilot programs, executed research, and carried out many projects to add a European dimension to our European programs.
AFS Belgium Flanders started exchanging youngsters older than 18 on the European level back in the 70's with the Young Workers Program (later with Petra and Leonardo). We stopped running the program when the emphasis moved from 'intercultural learning' and 'becoming a European citizen' to national (un)employment policies. We joined the EVS-program right from its start, back in 1996, as we felt this was an opportunity to carry out again the initial goal of the European programs: provide intercultural learning and become a European citizen. We started with sending and added hosting from 1998 onwards, reaching a volume of about 30 to 40 youngsters a year (sending and hosting together). In 2003 we also started with the short EVS program, as we felt it was a way to reach out to the diversity groups in our society. In order to recruit youngsters for this program, we started co-operations with organisations who work with this type of youngsters.
This program fits perfectly in our mission and our aim for diversity in age and social background. The European dimension is an added value that we foster.
If the present expression of interest is an update or a renewal of a former accreditation, please indicate the EI reference number previously assigned: 2009-BEFL-5

Description of the organisation

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

Last update: 03/02/2012