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Volunteering In The Netherlands
April 27, 2012
As you may know, I have been studying in Leiden, the Netherlands, this semester through my home institution, Central College (I will talk more about Leiden in a blog to come!). Throughout the course of my time here, many things have become evident—such as the necessity of canals in Dutch cities to prevent flooding, the popularity of Dutch cheese, and not surprisingly, the importance of family and instilling a sense of social and community responsibility in one’s children.
As a result, it is estimated that approximately 30—40% of the Dutch population takes part in some type of volunteer or community service project each year, and are usually active in more than one project or organization. In Leiden alone, Volunteer Day took place on March 16th and 17th, and the streets were filled with people out and about helping others, whether through assisting an animal shelter, making crafts with children with disabilities, or cleaning one of the city’s canals or parks.
Similar to in the United States, it is generally older, married individuals who volunteer the most, and typical projects that the Dutch care to volunteer for the most include programs for sports and hobbies, environmental associations, youth and children, religion, political affiliations, trade unions, women’s organizations, and other various aid organizations, whether they be dedicated to the Netherlands or abroad. However, the Dutch are not just willing to donate their time, but they also donate their money, and it is estimated that over 1.5% of the country’s GDP goes toward charitable giving each year.
For the Dutch who are looking to get involved, volunteer resource centers, such as Vrijwilligers Centrale (www.vca.nu/english) and i doe (www.i-doe.nl/), exist all over the country for assistance in finding an organization that is the perfect fit. For travelers or students studying abroad who are looking for a volunteer experience in the Netherlands, these resource centers also provide the information and support needed for a successful volunteer experience. These resource centers can generally be found in tourist information guides; however, don’t be surprised if organizations turn you down due to your short stay or their lack of need—many of these organizations are already full of volunteers, which is great, but makes it difficult for the international volunteer wanting to lend a hand!
Here is a look at just a couple organizations that are available to you in the Netherlands:Humanitas
With over 600 projects for volunteers to work on, Humanitas provides those who suffer from loneliness and grief the level of human support needed for a healthy recovery. Since 1945 Humanitas has become the leading welfare organization in the Netherlands. Each year over 11,000 volunteers (supervised by over 300 professionals) assist their clients, approximately 40,000 per year, in finding the confidence they need to get back on their feet, provide the elderly assistance in what is known as active aging, and overall helping all ages participate in society. With 90 local chapters supported in 5 districts throughout the Netherlands, Humanitas reaches the country at large.
Volunteers are typically recruited for work in housing and care of the elderly, persons with disabilities, children, and other kinds of social services such as financial assistance.
Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older and have a prolonged service to the organization.
For more information, check out: www.humanitas.nlPlan Netherlands
Plan Netherlands has been working since 1975 in some of the most complex circumstances to provide children, particularly young girls, the support they need in over 50 countries of the developing world. Plan International (a worldwide organization founded in 1937, not unique to the Netherlands!) strives to ensure a safe environment for the millions of children around the world that grow up in poverty while also providing basic health care and the means to an education so that they might see a better future. Through providing girls with the same opportunities and rights as boys, Plan Netherlands also tries to break traditional gender roles and stereotypes that often keep communities impoverished and families without the economic means to sustain their household.
Volunteers are always needed at Plan Netherlands, and can work on a variety of projects such as event organizing, participating in nationwide actions and events, providing assistance at the main office, serving as a press and media expert, assisting in selling merchandise (of which the proceeds go to the cause), and distributing publicity materials. Jobs also frequently open, especially for networking, coordinating, and translating!
Internships are also available!
For more information, check out: www.plannederland.nl/watwijdoen
Article source: http://volunteerglobal.com/blog/volunteering-netherlands