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A week in the life of a Mission House Volunteer

thumbnail A week in the life of a Mission House Volunteer

As a Mission House Volunteer I was able to work at 6 great projects throughout Amsterdam. Working with a different team each day provided a huge variety of experiences, and there was definitely no time to become bored.  Living as part of an international community of young people, we were able to share the amazing experience together and support each other throughout the year. The wide choice of projects means that the working week can be very different for each volunteer, who can select projects that match their skills and interests to create their own unique schedule.


My week starts at 9.00am on Monday morning as I begin my cycle journey into work. Today I will be working in De Tweede Mijl (The second mile), one of several homeless shelters in Amsterdam. The first task of the day is to prepare the sandwiches before the first visitors arrive. I then spend the day serving tea and coffee at the bar, talking to the visitors and listening to their stories. At midday we close the bar for a short time of worship; we sing songs, have a bible refection and pray together with the visitors.


Tuesday begins with a morning shift in De Kloof, another homeless shelter. Today I am supervising the shower and clothing room, where visitors can hand in their clothes to be washed and choose a new set from the rails of donated clothing. The visitors can also take a shower for 50 cents. After lunch is the weekly meeting for Blikveld, a youth platform for young people within the Protestant Church of Amsterdam. I am a member of the writing team and I report back on the work we have done updating the website with new articles and photos from events. On Tuesday evenings we have house meeting, a chance for us to share about our week, discuss any problems and talk about any events coming up. Later we have our ‘Zinmoment’, a group reflection time prepared by one community member on a topic of their own choice.


On Wednesday I help at a Christian kids club for 8-11 year olds. I have lunch with the children and I take the chance to try and practice some Dutch. It’s often difficult to practice the language as so many people in Amsterdam speak English. I help to supervise the children as they take part in activities and games based on a Bible story. In the evening I head to Amsta, an organisation offering care and support for residents with handicaps and disabilities. I come to the villa for a couple of hours to give the residents some extra company and attention, playing with toys or musical instruments. If the weather is nice we go out for a walk in the nearby Vondelpark.


On Thursdays I take the bus to Zaandam and join the visitors group at the detention centre. The detainees all have no valid passport or visa and are therefore ‘illegal’ and are not allowed to remain in the Netherlands. They are held in the detention centres while the government confirms where they come from and tries to make arrangements for them to be deported back to their own country. Unlike in a normal prison they have no idea how long they will be held and have very few rights. When the Exodus group visit the men have a chance to relax for an hour, we play dominos, serve drinks, spend time talking and lend a listening ear.


On Friday I head back to the homeless shelter for a full day of work in De Kloof. I spend the morning at the welcome table, registering the visitors in the computer system when they first enter the shelter. In the afternoon I help serve tea, coffee and sandwiches at the bar. It’s normally very quiet on a Friday afternoon so I have chance to sit down at the tables and talk to the guests.


After a week of working at the projects I have two free days at the weekend. On Saturdays I take the ferry to Amsterdam North to help out at a local Scout group. On Sunday evenings we have family time and take it in turns to organise activities such as bowling, ice skating or watching a film together. These evenings are always great fun and after a busy week working at different projects it’s nice to spend time together as a community.


I had a great 10 months in the Mission House and I definitely learnt lots from my experiences. I made lots of new friends and have many great memories of the times spent with my fellow volunteers.


If you are thinking of joining the Mission House then I urge you to apply.