The Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend is an independent non-profit organization that is part of a national chain of hospitals under Birdprotection Flanders. We have been founded in 1984, at first to take care of the many oiled birds that came ashore. In 2014, we existed 30 years. The last 3 years we get at about 3500 patients, most of them because of human activities (e.g. oil, but also traffic, birds taken by a cat, birds that flew against a window…).
Our main goal is the rehabilitation of wildlife so we can release them back into nature. By doing this we also try to educate the public. For a lot of people, the bird they find is their first contact with nature, and we try to make that a start for more interest. The center organizes activities about nature and bird protection for local people. We also support scientific research of different institutes in providing data about the animals that stay in the center. We work closely together with both Belgian and foreign rescue centers, and also with the University of Ghent. Our veterinarian, Raul, ex-EVS, is doing his PhD there, and the Rescue Center Ostend is also a research center for the University. In 2014 they started with the building of new outside cages, and this investment will continue for the next years.
We work with 5 staff members (2 full time, 3 part-time). We have at about 150 volunteers (for administration, transport animals, animal care, activities). Our organization has about 1000 members.
Until now we had over 70 EVS-volunteers, mostly long-term volunteers but also short-term volunteers. This project is a good chance for volunteers to learn how a wildlife rescue centre works. The work is divers: each season and every day is different, you don’t know what kind of birds will arrive. They will have the opportunity to work closely with wildlife. So we think we can offer an interesting and most important, useful work. The work that volunteers do is rewarded with the release of wildlife back into nature. An EVS-volunteer spends a lot of time in the centre, so they learn a lot of tasks and gain responsibility.
Every year, we coordinate and host 3 long-term EVS and 4 short-terms EVS. The long-term EVS stay for 1 year, and the starting dates are 1st of June, 7th of July and 6th of December.
The short-term EVS stay for 2 or 4 months during summer. They start on 1st of June and the last short-term leaves at the 30th of September. For this kind of project, you need to be a disadvantaged youngster (fewer opportunities).
Every EVS will take his part in the daily work at the Wildlife Rescue Centre. This contains animal care such as feeding, cleaning cages, raising orphaned wildlife, and assisting the veterinarian. Off course, in some cases, there will be other tasks to fulfill.
The workings hours are from 9u-12u30 and from 13:00-17u30. Sometimes, there can be evening shifts, depending on the season. Every EVS works 5 days a week.
Accommodation & practical arrangements
Every EVS volunteer receives € 345 a month. This money is food- and pocket money. It will be paid cash or by bank transfer.
The long-term EVS have a small studio with kitchenette in a student house. The 3 long-term EVS stay in the same house, together with some students. The bathroom and toilets are shared. Every EVS also receives a bike which can be used to go to the Wildlife Rescue Centre that is situated 20minutes from the EVS House.
The short-term EVS share a room with bunk beds. This room is situated in the Wildlife Rescue Centre. Kitchen, toilets and bathrooms are shared with the local volunteers, but are divided in a separate woman and men section. The short-term EVS also receive a bike free to use.
Both accommodations are situated close to public transport and shops.
How to apply
Send your cv and cover letter (English) to EVS Coördinator Michael Deryckere via email@example.com. He will answer you as soon as possible.
Some EVS and their experiences
Johanna Hess (Germany), long-term EVS 2013-2014
“I spent a wonderful year at the VOC Oostende. While it certainly helped me in shaping a clearer image of what I want to do with my future, for me the most important part was the people I met and the friendships that formed. I have never met anybody who follows their job with quite as much passion, and can inspire that kind of passion in others. I look at nature differently now, and have made wildlife rehabilitation a career goal of mine.”
Linnéa Gräns Samuelsson (Sweden), short-term EVS summer 2012
“I came to the VOC for two months in the summer of 2012, which in hindsight was way too short. I had a year off between high school and university, and I wanted to do something that felt meaningful. I assumed I would get nice memories, make new friends and get new experiences (all of which turned out to be true), but I hadn't expected how much these two months would change me as a person. Being in a new country with new people forced me out of my comfort zone. I became more open around new people, more relaxed, and I've heard from friends and family that the change was noticeable when I came home. The atmosphere at the VOC was really friendly, which of course made it easier for me to come out of my shell. To have this experience directly before leaving my hometown for university was perfect, since it made it a lot easier for me to make new friends in a city where I knew almost no one. This has been very important to me since being more outgoing and confident has led to many opportunities at my university - this autumn, for example, I will work part time for three different departments (physics, mathematics, computer science). Volunteering at the VOC was a great experience and I recommend it strongly!”
Laura Alvarez (Spain), long-term EVS 2010-2011
“I spent one year as EVS in the VogelOpvang Centrum in Oostende. I had big expectations before going there, but it was definitely more than I thought. I can hardly express with words what that year meant to me. I have not only learned a lot about birds and wildlife but about myself too. I lived so many weird but, at the same time, funny situations in the center...get lost with our bikes while releasing hedgehogs in the middle of the forest at night, clean walls while singing opera, eating ice cream in winter on our way to release seabirds, help to build cages, coffee time with sweets in the middle of a busy day, feed baby bats...but above all of this, I have nothing but admiration and love for the volunteers and staff who works there. I met wonderful people from other countries and local volunteers who made that year so special and fun! Wish I could back in time and live those moments again!”
Inga Popova (Latvia), long-term EVS 2013-2014
“I was a long-term EVSer in „VOC Oostende” for a year (2013-2014). It was a unique experience for several reasons: I was lucky to be a part of a devoted wildlife care team and work along both professionals and fellow volunteers in a well-organized project. I got a chance to take care of many wild animals, see them closely and learn more about them. I met many local and international people, each of them with their own story and character, in that way broadening my vision of how different and at the same time similar most cultures of the world are. I still keep in touch with the people I met here. The workload was different depending on the season, there was more work in the summer than the winter, but all the effort was totally worth it! The free days that the EVS volunteers got during the year were more than enough to discover Belgium and the surrounding countries. And finally, my EVS year gave me a chance to discover my own country and culture from a different point of view!”
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