Last year I created an article which explains what is the European Voluntary Service (EVS). Today, more than a year later, I look back at my experience within my own EVS.
From the 01st of December 2014 to the 31th of August 2015, I have been a European volunteer working with the Inspire foundation in Malta. Inspire is a non-governmental organization (NGO) which provides sessions to disabled people (children and adults). The foundation includes three centers on the Maltese islands (two in Malta and one in Gozo).
Mission of the European Volunteer
My role, among dozens of other volunteers from all Europe, is to join, supervise and organize daily activities offered by Inspire. Most of the people coming to the center have disabilities (Down syndrome, autism...). Children from 3 to 15 years old are doing activities (or sessions) that can be artistic (pottery, arts and crafts...), social (group games, treasure hunt...), sensorial (in the multi-sensory rooms) and interactive (with the animals). Specific programs have been made for adults (with some of them having severe disabilities). When we are not working in those areas (mostly between the winter and summer programs) our job is more about looking after the saddle club and the park and taking care of the animals in it (horses, poneys, rabbits, goats, sheep...). Our role is actually more than this and can also include working in the charity shop or doing the tin collection for example.
Frequently, various fundraising events are taking place in aid of Inspire and the volunteers will work there to help and make sure that everything is going well (Christmas stand, new sensory room, Malta marathon, nutella festival...).
My personal contribution
Moreover, since January 2015, I had the chance to use my personal IT skills (at least one day per week) within a project that is going to help Inspire working more efficiently and serenely. This way, I created a backend website (accessible with logins only) which works with a database. This database stores all the data regarding the staff, the clients and the sessions provided by Inspire throughout the year. From there, the system allows the user to extract different reports which will be sent to the government.
To conclude, these nine months of volunteering represent for me a unique experience which enabled me to work in a different area and even use my own knowledge to help the center the way I know how. Living in Malta helped me improve my English and open my mind to cultures that I didn't necessarily know before. I would like to thank my sending organization (la mission locale de Villeurbanne) and Inspire to make all of it possible and I suggest this EVS program to anyone interested in discovering new things and improving on a personal level.
Note: just a few pictures have been taken during the sessions because of respect regarding the children and copyright.