Kuterevo Bear Refuge is looking for 2 EVS volunteers (from autumn 2014)

Bears and people from Kuterevo Refuge are looking for 2 young persons who would join them for 9-month long European Voluntary Service, starting in Autumn 2014. If interested, continue reading…

Kuterevo is a small village in the Velebit from around 550 habitants. The Bear Refuge project is being run by Velebit Association Kuterevo and the main fundaments of the project are volunteers among which EVS volunteers play a significant role. Basically, the Bear Refuge Project and the Volunteers’ Station are coordinated by volunteers, among whom some are from Kuterevo, some from Zagreb and even from abroad.

EVS in Kuterevo is pretty different than EVS in other places, especially cities. Being an EVS in Kuterevo requires dedication to the place and Bear Refuge project, good and strong will, team work and care about others, yourself and animals. This is not an office project nor corporation, but a living idea which is growing together with people being involved.

9-months is a long period. In Kuterevo it may seem even longer than in other places, because it can be intensive like summer period, but also calm and slow like long winter. Many people are visiting, many volunteers helping, and many friends of the bears coming back. Seasonal changes, as well as the weather, have an impact on everyday life (including mood ).

In autumn, the work is mostly related to winter preparation

  • learning Croatian (the most important task of EVS volunteers in the beginning)
  • learning about and from bears, refuge and village
  • collecting fruits and mushrooms
  • preparing gardens for spring
  • collecting corn, packing dry bread for the bears
  • welcoming and guiding visitors and groups
  • lots of physical work

In winter, which is more relaxed and peaceful, volunteers are:

  • learning about bears and getting ready for visitors and school groups
  • preparing activities for summer groups
  • documenting Kuterevo cultural heritage

In spring, volunteers work on:

  • preparing the Refuge for visitors (signs, info-material, souvenirs etc)
  • improving facilities around the Refuge and Volunteers (lots of hard work)
  • welcoming and guiding visitors and school groups
  • collecting and storing food for the bears
  • collecting herbs and mushrooms
  • preparation work for the voluntary groups which will come during the Summer
  • lots of physical work

In summer, the work is different, since the Refuge hosts around 20 different groups of volunteers and other volunteers can have the following duties:

  • coordination of the voluntary groups at two locations (in the village and in the mountain), that includes participation in the work, mostly physical work (building, construction, making paths, etc.)
  • welcoming and introducing new volunteers (around 50 volunteers come for a week or longer)
  • welcoming visitors and groups
  • preparing events for local youth for local fests

Additional activities:

  • organising educational workshops and voluntary activities with local youngsters, schools…
  • visiting older people in the village
  • taking care of animals (dogs, cats, ducks, geese, chickens…)
  • writing for the Volunteer’s blog
  • gardening, maintaining the Bear Botanical garden
  • working on educational trail
  • meditating with bears
  • and many other things

Volunteers’ station – values, basics and lifestyle

Most of activities will take place in and around Kuterevo volunteers’ station, which is the center of activities and of daily life (even if EVS volunteers are accommodated in rooms in the village) for all volunteers.

Lifestyle in the station is based on principles and values of sustainability, respect of nature animals and other people. Thus, food is vegetarian, prepared with local and seasonal products from the village or around (forget about coke and food from faraway), we cook on fire and eat altogether, there is no fluent water inside the house, we use compost toilets, share most of the things (time, tasks and responsibilities, good and bad moments, plates and cups…)…

From EVS volunteers, we are expecting:

  • to take the EVS project seriously!
  • to be ready to get out of their comfort zone and to learn
  • to be ready to spend months in a remote place (Kuterevo village) with only few other volunteers
  • dedication to the project, on the first place Bear Refuge
  • to be willing to learn a lot about the bears and wilderness
  • to be willing to learn Croatian language in first months
  • to be willing to integrate and explore local community, rather than touristic places
  • self-initiative and self-motivation
  • to be responsive and responsible

…and from EVS experience in Kuterevo, one can:

  • experience life in a village surrounded by forest and guided by seasons
  • learn about tradition of Kuterevo, but also get close to people and their wisdom (learning
  • about carpentry, knitting, reusing, modesty, gardening, solidarity…)
  • learn a lot about bears and from bears
  • spend every day in bears’ company (most of people never even see them during their lifetime)
  • take care of other animals
  • meet many other people from all around the world who come for a visit or volunteering
  • live with other people from different countries and different stories
  • learn about easy and those less easy everyday responsibilities in Bear Refuge Project and other activities
  • learn Croatian and be able to communicate with people from the village, but also the whole Balkans
  • practise gardening, collecting herbs, mushrooms, berries
  • get friendly with fire, and cooking and hitting on fire
  • look for tracks and take part in a project for bear monitoring
  • work outside and with their hands and to learn working with tools
  • run their own small personal project/ideas
  • coordinate summer groups (scouts and workcamps)
  • challenge yourself outside the comfort zone
  • and much more…

EVS in Kuterevo should not:

  • expect much travelling around the “exotic Balkans”
  • expect internship like experience in nature conservation
  • plan to get a lot without giving a lot
  • try to avoid learning Croatian language (hvala!)

Please be honest in your motivation letter with your motivation, expectations, your qualities, weaknesses and reasons to come to Kuterevo for 9 months and leave the place where you are living at the moment. You can expect additional questions and a Skype talk.

More information on volunteers’ life in Kuterevo can be found at kuterevo.wordpress.com. The full description of the project will be soon published on EVS project database.

Your motivation/intentional letter and CV should be sent to kuterevo.volunteers@gmail.com AND kuk-kuterevo@gs.t-com.hr as soon as possible, but before the end of summer and be ready to start your EVS in autumn.

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