EVS: True Stories Behind the Scenes – Part 3

We continue our series of true stories about EVS life. Taking Erasmus+ Programme EVS Info Kit «What to expect from EVS» as an official guide into volunteers life and the examples of real experiences, we compare how it should be and how it might happen. Read carefully, maybe one day it can save your life as a future EVS volunteer:)

«2.2. Financial and administrative rules

The volunteer can request and must receive help from the organizations in obtaining a visa if so required by the legislation of the host country. If asked to do so in due time, the National/Executive Agency or SALTO can also issue letters supporting the volunteer’s visa application».

M: I came back to my home country where I spent 3 months trying to prolong my visa to continue the project. It wasn’t successful mostly because my hosting organization didn’t provide me with all of the papers. I asked my sending organization for assistance, but it became obvious that the dialogue with the hosting organization was useless. I also asked for help from a person from SALTO. And my last step was contacting the National Agency. When NA’s director used a violent language, I understood that there was no other way left to get the support. Luckily, after this project, I had a chance to go for a short-term EVS that turned out to be quite good.

«During the entire volunteering period, including while on vacation, the volunteer is also entitled to a monthly or weekly allowance (pocket money). The amounts are as stated in the Programme Guide. The pocket money must not be aimed at covering costs related to the implementation of the project (for example local transport or food)».

EVS Story - Part 3

E: Our boss didn’t give the volunteers all amount of money that we should get per month. The first 4 months I had a lunch, 75 euros for food and 100 for other things. But during the last two months, he gave me just 100 euro for food, and I didn’t have a lunch during my working hours. So for a long time, I ate just pasta with garlic and tomato sauce.

B: The delay of pocket money for almost 20 days in April has shortened my daily ration. I started to eat only rice, as I had nothing else left. I was too stupid to my pride to borrow money. I was expecting to receive the money soon and overcome the situation by myself.

«The volunteer has to be covered, throughout the voluntary service period, by the obligatory EVS group insurance plan set up by the European Commission. The volunteer must read carefully the insurance-related information found online».

B: One of my dental fillings fell out of a tooth. So I asked the supervisor about the chances to cover the fix by insurance. The reply seemed too complicated for me – I was asked to pay for the fix in cash, and the insurance will reimburse the cost later. The dentist works only on Thursdays in that region and I probably had to wait for a week or more. Otherwise, I had to go to the private dentist in the capital city, which is 120 km away from the village where I was staying. The situation felt unbearable. When I finally received the money, it seemed much easier to buy a ticket back to my home country and get my tooth done at whichever dentist the same day at home. I simply was scared because I’ve never used the insurance abroad before. So the reason I left the project was mostly psychological: emotional drain, stress, and inability to see the situation from another point of view. I needed more parent-like assistance, which obviously, nobody was able to provide it over there.

EVS Story Part 3

T: I left my project earlier because of illness. I went to the doctor only after 7 months I started feeling discomfort in my feet, which it turned into a real pain. The doctor diagnosed a serious problem. As the treatment consisted of few surgeries and walking on spikes generally for 6 months, it was obvious that I need to come back to my home country. I clearly realized that including all conditions it would be extremely inconvenient to do the treatment in a foreign country as I had only 3 months left till my project ends. My coordinating and hosting organization were very supportive and understanding in this situation, and soon I left home. The main learning outcome for me is that I need to pay the essential attention to my health as without it no big plans can be realized.

«2.3. Positive attitudes in EVS

The volunteer should take an active role in setting up her/his EVS project together with the organizations, and this should be encouraged by the Sending, Receiving and Coordinating Organisation».

K: Before going to my own EVS, I had some experience of making EVS host projects in my home country. So I believed that I was very well prepared for the challenging situations, but I had no idea what I will face during my own EVS. From the first moment, it was obvious that my hosting organization didn’t want to work with the volunteers and it didn’t have any previous experience. At the beginning, the coordinator told us that we don’t have to come to the office and work there because we will disturb the regular workers of the NGO. And if we have something to do, we should come after 3 pm. On top of it, the NGO mission was the peaceful coexistence and managements of ethnic conflicts in the region. Then it became obvious that the whole crew share the worst prejudices and use hate speech against the minority groups that they were working for.

Contributed by Iryna Kolotylo – volunteer in RAIZVANGUARDA-Associação Cultural, Portugal
Photos by Marta Kolotylo

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