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Volunteer abroad, Gap year in Zagreb


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What is a Volunteer Job?

Volunteer service contributes to the well-being of an individual and the community and is usually coordinated by a non-profit or public sector organization. These positions rarely offer any salary or wage, but in some cases offer accommodation or other benefits in exchange for work. Volunteering internationally offers a unique perspective into local culture, a chance to work with people from around the world, and unparalleled experiences.

Volunteering in Croatia

Volunteering is an excellent way to spend your time in Croatia, as there is a range of volunteer activities available at several different locations, from urban to rural, on the coast and in the mountains. Although unpaid, some volunteer positions offer perks like free room and board or unpaid entry to concerts and festivals.

The application process varies largely and depends on the organization. Sometimes an email is enough; sometimes a formal application is required, along with some kind of deposit. Application deadlines also depend on the organization.

Technically, foreign nationals are not allowed to volunteer on a regular tourist visa. Instead, a visa that permits volunteer work must be acquired. Some organizations may assist with visa acquisition. It's wise to discuss the best course of action with the organization directly.

Programs

Croatia offers several unique volunteer opportunities such as:

Eco-Center Caput Insulae

Eco-Center Caput Insulae, located on the island of Cres, is dedicated to the rescue and care of Eurasian griffins. The sanctuary also runs an interpretation center with three exhibitions and an educational program. In the past, volunteers were welcome to help out from March until the end of October, but currently, the sanctuary is reorganizing all of its programs. For updated information on volunteering, visit their website.

Kuterevo Bear Sanctuary

The tiny town of Kuterevo, located beyond Velebit Mountain towards the Adriatic, is home to bears that lost their mothers when they were young. Volunteers run the sanctuary and in return are provided with housing in the center of the village. For more information about volunteering at Kuterevo, check out the sanctuary's blog.

Events and festivals

Croatia is notorious for being home to a slew of summertime music and film festivals. The success of many of these festivals is due to large numbers of volunteers that want to help out and get in on the action. In the past, music festivals such as Terraneo, Outlook, and Dimensions, as well as Motovun film festival have all welcomed volunteers.

Some festival volunteers are repaid for their work with free festival entry; sometimes, free accommodation and food is also offered. It's best to check with the organizers of the festival that interests you for specific information.

Volonterski centar Zagreb

Volonterski center Zagreb is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that aims to promote volunteering and make volunteer opportunities more accessible. VCZ organizes long and short-term volunteer opportunities in Zagreb and elsewhere in Croatia and coordinates international volunteer exchanges. Several opportunities in various categories are listed on the VCZ website, but English-language information is limited. It's a good idea to contact VCZ directly for up-to-date information on volunteer positions.

WWOOF Independents

WWOOF is a well-known organization that connects volunteers with organic farmers looking for extra help. Some countries have their own national WWOOF organizations, but Croatia is one of 42 countries listed with WWOOF independents. WWOOF volunteers work for free, often in exchange for room and board. Descriptions of available opportunities are available on online. EasyExpat's "How To WWOOF around the World" can help you understand the program.

For even more volunteer opportunities, you might also look at our other articles on Summer Jobs and Internship abroad on the left column of this page.

The European Voluntary Service (EVS)

The European Voluntary Service is a European Union program that offers young people (between 18 and 30) the opportunity to work as a volunteer for six to twelve months in a non-profit project abroad. The European Commission covers most travel costs, insurance (health, accident, public liability) and provides a monthly allowance.

How to proceed: Find a sending organization that will assist you through the process (you can find contacts through your National Agency, your National Coordinator or international volunteer organizations). Start contacting potential host organizations through your sending organization. Be patient and start your search as soon as possible. While there are many potential host organizations, sometimes it can be challenging to find one that is able to host you during the dates you are available.

There are several EVS accredited organizations in Croatia. All of them are listed online with detailed descriptions about possible volunteer positions.

Insurance Abroad

Many volunteer programs also handle visa arrangements and include insurance coverage in their program fees or as part of their compensation. If they do not, you will need to shop around for rates and coverage. Ask for a letter of introduction and prepare to shop around for best rates and coverage. Consult our section on "International healthcare & Medical Insurance" to find out more about your options.


Update 14/03/2016



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