EVS in ARCHELON
European Voluntary Service celebrates its 20 years for 2016 and continues to offer organizations and volunteers unique experiences.
This case is also ARCHELON, The Sea Turtle Society of Greece, which hosts currently some bright young EVS volunteers from all over EU. They get to offer their valuable assistance in protecting the nesting activity at Rethymno project and in rescuing injured sea turtles at ARCHELON’s Sea Turtle Rescue Centre.
So, let us see what Natalia, Andrea and Tina have to say about their volunteering at the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre and Isaak and Chiara about their time at Rethymno project.
EVS volunteers at the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre
Natalia Page from United Kingdom
How EVS helped me
I have always loved marine life and the ocean, so after graduating from university I looked for a volunteer project related to them. I came across ARCHELON when looking for a project around Europe and decided to come and work here for a month. During my time as a regular volunteer here I learnt about EVS from other volunteers who were currently on it. I loved working here and when I got home I immediately looked into coming back here the next year with EVS.
I chose EVS as I wouldn’t have been able to afford to come here for 6 months without it. It is a great opportunity to volunteer in a meaningful project without costing you lost of money and also to gain experience in conservation if that is the area of work you would like to go into.
My experience up to now has been amazing and I have loved being involved in this project as well as talking to the public about our turtles at the Rescue Centre and the work we do. We have also started to do some enrichment activities with the turtles that I have been involved in so I have been making things for their tanks and we have been implementing a project over summer. I am really looking forward to how this project will work out as well as continuing my work here over autumn.
Andrea Beca Costa from Luxemburg
The Rescue Centre and how it influenced me
The Rescue Centre was founded in 1994 in Glyfada, Athens and is responsible for the rehabilitation of injured turtles. Whenever someone finds an injured turtle in Greece they call us or the Marine Port and they inform us.
When they send us the turtle, we pick it up and treat it with drips and injections. After we go for X-Rays to see if the turtle has any hooks and how deep they are. We also check if the turtle has a broken flipper or in case they have a head injury, how deep it is.
In the Rescue Centre we have different shifts. The AM shift, the Tube feed, the PM, PA (public awareness) and Data shift.
The AM shift starts 30 min before the daily volunteer work and one has to take the temperature of each turtle, describe their behaviour and physical state, how many fish have been left by the turtle from the previous day and observe if turtles have any incline when swimming. After that the person in the AM shift will hang up the router table for the day to show which tanks have to be cleaned, which turtles are on tube feed, who needs a therapy, drips and injections and how much fish each turtle needs. The AM person is also responsible for the hygiene of the Centre and to make sure there is enough fish and tube feed for the next day.
The PM person has to clean all the towels used for the turtles. Take the temperature in the afternoon. Take care of the hygiene of the Centre and print the router for the next day.
The PA person is responsible to guide our visitors in the Rescue Centre and be in charge of our shop.
I’m having a really nice experience up so far. I discovered a whole new animal from different perspective. I also learned to live in a small community and how work in a team even when sometimes it’s not easy there are always solutions. Communication is very important especially in a small community. I also learned a lot about other cultures. Especially the Greek culture!
I have, also, learned to manage my money in order to do things I like without having my fridge empty.
EVS and Archelon helped me to meet a lot of people from different countries whom I can’t wait to see again!
I think that EVS is a really nice program which gives young people the opportunity to discover themselves, a new culture and a new job eventually.
Tina Andersson from Sweden
Hi my name is Tina, I’m 20 years old and I’m from Sweden. I participate at the Rescue Centre, a rehabilitation centre for sea turtles. After I finished school I wanted to take a gap year or two just to find out what I want to do in life. One of the things I wanted to try was either volunteering or go as an Au Pair. Then I heard about this project and everything about it made me want to go. Ever since I was young I’ve been such in love with animals. I already knew since then that I wanted to work with animals in some way.
Before coming to Greece and to the Rescue Centre, I had never seen a turtle. I couldn’t even imagine how I would be working with that amazing creature.
When I arrived at the Center, there was a very warm welcome waiting for me. A lot of my tension was gone but at the same time not. I knew I had 5 months in front of me and my family 3.000 km away. The only one I had, was myself.
5 months have already passed and it’s almost time for me to pack my bags and go home. I’ve learned a lot here, not only about sea turtles, also about myself. I have learned a new language, new people and new ways of living. This is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. EVS is a good opportunity for young people that want to do something different and funny after many years in school. I believe that everyone should experience something like this once in their life, to learn and grow as a person.
EVS volunteers protecting sea turtle nesting activity in Rethymno, Crete
Isaak Paulsson from Sweden
Hello I'm Isaak from Sweden and I'm 22.
I chose Archelon because I've wanted to volunteer with turtles since I was 15 years old, also, because I really like animals and wanted to do something important.
The reason I chose the EVS program is that it gives me the opportunity to see a new country, experience a new culture and meet new friends from all over the world.
My experience so far has been amazing and I've learnt many new things about turtles and their way of life. The best thing about my stay in Greece is meeting other EVS volunteers and share common experiences.
Chiara Murroccu from Luxemburg
Hello my name is Chiara, I'm 22 years old and I come from Luxembourg.
I chose to do an EVS Program, because I wanted to do something different. When I got my diploma, I knew that I wouldn't go to university or find a job. I heard about EVS and after a few talks with my sending organisation, I knew I wanted to do this. To go to another country, for a long period of time, work as well as help there.
More specifically, I chose Archelon because I was always fascinated by the turtles but never had the chance to work for them. I was never in such a close contact with them so I wanted to change that and learn more about those beautiful and wonderful animals. So, after the conversation with my sending and a talk with a former EVS volunteer, who had worked for 6 months at the Rescue Centre and was more than happy to recommend Archelon to me, I decided to volunteer there.
My first 10 days here in Greece I worked as a volunteer in Archelon’s Rescue Centre, after this time I came to Rethymno. I am staying here for 5 months and then I am going to return for my last 2 weeks back to the Rescue Centre. So, now, lucky me, I work in 2 different projects!
My stay at Archelon’s Rescue Centre was amazing. I worked so close with the turtles, learned so much about them and was able to give help, even if it was only for a limited time period. Not enough to mention that all the volunteers there are doing an amazing job!
Now, Rethymno project is also special, since we are doing a lot of PA (Public Awareness) shifts– a thing which I really like. We are talking to people, explaining our work and why it is so important to protect the sea turtles. I love to learn to so many new things about turtles, but also to see that our work is literally working especially during the monitoring shifts.
So, EVS gave me the chance to live in a foreign country, to learn so much about the country’s culture, feel useful and, for sure, feel that I am not alone.