From March on, Covid-19 brought the world to a standstill. Countries were in lock-down. Airports, museums, churches, and other public places were being closed. And people needed to stay at home. Covid-19 has an impact on all of us. On this page, we would like to tell you a little more about the current situation in the Netherlands and in our ministry. If you are interested in volunteering abroad with covid-19 circumstances, continue reading!
Volunteering abroad with covid-19: the situation in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the Covid-19 situation seems under control right now. So in May, we were able to reopen the Shelter Jordan. We see that tourists find their way to Amsterdam again and we receive more guests every week. A blessing for our ministry.
Volunteering abroad with covid-19: the situation in our hostels
Besides the personal consequences Covid-19 had for each and every one of us, these events also had consequences for our ministry. Reservations were canceled, volunteers were called to go home. Due to a lack of guests in our hostels, we had to close both hostels for a while.
So it is beautiful to see how we can reach out to our guests again. But we are not there yet. There are still some challenges we are facing. First of all, one of our hostels is still closed. Secondly, we will have to maintain the 1.5-meter social distance guidelines in our hostels, according to Dutch regulations. Keeping 1.5-meter distance between staff and guests, as well as between guests, is quite difficult in a hostel, especially when you have giant dorms with 18 beds! It means we can only sell 15% of the total amount of beds that we usually have. We are missing out on a lot of income and this creates financial challenges.
Implications for volunteering in our ministry
But at least we are open again! So volunteering abroad with covid-19 is still possible to join our volunteer team! Usually, the hostels are run by an enthusiastic team of young volunteers. Because the Shelter City is closed, we run the Shelter Jordan now with the two teams of paid workers of both hostels: making breakfast, cleaning (bath)rooms, preparing dinner, hosting activities, checking people in and out at reception. A small team of volunteers works alongside the managers in the hostels in the following shifts:
- MA-CL - Morning/Afternoon shift from 8AM-4PM - serving breakfast, making beds and cleaning bathrooms, helping out where needed
- AE - Afternoon/Evening shift from 1.45PM-10PM or 3.45PM-midnight – café, preparing dinner; some cleaning, evangelism, evening activity with guests
- SL – Sleeper shift from 10PM till 8AM next morning - some café work and sleeping at the hostel as back-up for the night receptionist in case anything happens during the night
All volunteers are scheduled for five shifts of eight hours a week, including quite some cleaning, or working in the café to be able to reach out to guests. You will have 2 days off per week. We may do some evening Bible activities with our guests, and we do evening prayer every night with those who are working and those who like to attend.
Implications for life in the community house
We want to be honest and clear on the current situation. Things are completely different than the impression you may have from our website or the stories of former volunteers who shared about their Shelter experience with you. Although volunteering abroad with covid-19 is still possible with us, we had to make some rearrangements. Right now there are no ministry training classes for example. And where we normally have a community of 25-35 people, we now have a big house with about 15 rooms and only 4-6 volunteers. We are renting out half of our rooms to young Christians who study or work in Amsterdam. Through this, we try to create more a sense of community. There will be no house parents for a while, as we want to rethink of how to lead the community in the future. The volunteers have always had our focus. We will still take care of our volunteers, only in a different way that is described on our website right now.
Implications for applying as a volunteer
A lot is unsure these days. That makes it hard to say what volunteering in our ministry will look like in the near future. Will more tourists come to the Netherlands in the coming months? What will Amsterdam look like? Will the Shelter City also open? How will the Covid-19 virus manifest the coming months?
So for now, we work with a small team of European volunteers. We currently only accept a limited amount of European volunteers, because we want to be flexible in case Covid-19 rises up again in our country. When there is more clarity on Amsterdam tourism and the Covid-19 evolution, we may increase this number in the close future. We track the current guidelines of the Dutch National Institute of Health and make changes to the guidelines accordantly.
Change of costs
We decided that the food money will go up, starting September 1st. For the past 10 years, staff used to pay a 2 euro fee per day (€60 per month) for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a room to stay in and other costs in the community house. Though prices went up throughout the years, we never changed this fee. Since we now need to be more careful financially, we think it is fair to ask money 5 euro per day to cover all expenses: a total of €150 per month.
Contact us if you want to volunteer with us!
So, volunteering in our ministry is quite different than it was before. A different way of working. A different way of ministry. But we have guests, to reach out to, to talk with, to love and to serve and to share the gospel with. We find even more time to do so in this quiet season. God is working in beautiful ways!
If you feel called to volunteer with us during these covid-19 circumstances, feel free to contact us. We will give you an actual update of what is happening in our ministry and whether we are able to receive more volunteers. We hope and pray that the Lord will speak to your heart, and that you can find peace in His presence whatever the outcome may be. May He give you his guidance, wisdom and insight in all steps in your life and the joy to live for Him, wherever He may lead you.