EVS project in Austria

Name: Apostolidi Konstantina (Nadja)

Project title: Lebenshilfe – a varied experience with people with special needs

Hosting Organisation : Sunnahof Lebenshilfe Vorarlberg 

Sending Organisation : Filoxenia 

Coordinating organization : aha – Tipps & Infos für junge Leute 

Duration: 12 months (01.09.2014- 31.08.2015)


My name is Apostolidi Konstantina and everybody calls me Nadia. I am 24 years old and I come from Patras, a big city in the west side of Greece.

How i decided to choose this Project:

I admired the activities and all the actions that this institution had made until now and I was really fond of the idea to be a member of such a family-like team. The objective that they have about the future of people with light intellectual disabilities and behavior problems which is to prepare this target group for the regular employment market and society in general seems really positive for me. Also the principal “people need people” no matter if you have any disabilities or not, really expresses me.

I was really interested to experience working and living in a difficult and demanding environment with people that need devotion and special care.

  • Description of the establishment and working area :


Sunnahof is an institution for people with light intellectual disabilities and behaviour problems from the age of 16 until retirement. The core objective is to prepare this target group for the regular employment market. Therefore, Sunnahof provides four biodynamic working areas with naturalistic working conditions: Agriculture, Plant Nursery, Carpentry and Gastronomy with a Farm Shop.

For this short time of period that I have been working in Sunnahof’s Carpentry I have made the idea that :

In This working area people are working hard and they succeed to finish all the orders according to schedule! In their own tempo and their own unique way everything works and the result is really satisfying. They make quiet complicated constructions and they also create useful and artistic wooden creations .

For example tables, boxes in any size, doll houses (my personal favorites), bird houses, objects for decoration and many other things in cooperation with other companies .

I don’t really know anything about Carpentry but in my eyes people are able to use heavy machinery with accurate and safety. Most of them have a good training and knowledge in Carpentry. With continuous guidelines and observation from the superiors the result comes out with success. The environment in this working area is really good and everybody is useful . I firmly believe that they all have development every single day in their own level.

(More Information from : http://www.sunnahof.or.at/tischlerei0.html)

EVS experience until now.

  • I live in Austria for almost 3 months now and everything is better than I could ever imagine. I leave in a small village called Göfis, in Voralrberg. Voralrberg is a really well located place. It’s close to Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Germany. The landscapes are beautiful and the people are friendly and nice . I live with 3 other volunteers in a big house next to the organization that I’m working. The house has 3 floors. Every volunteer has its own room. We have a big shared kitchen, a big living room with 4 couches, 2 bathroom & 2 WC, one of each in every floor. It was a challenge for me to have roomates because I have never lived with other people besides my family for such a long time of period. We have fun all together. We cook together, we talk a lot about our day and the people that we worked with and also we have made schedule for the housework. Sometimes is difficult for everybody to be pleased but we have our own space and regular meetings in order to solve all the possible problems. Four more volunteers are living really close and we meet each other in our free time. The cooperating organization<<aha>> also organizes interesting activities for us from time to time. We have Deutsch courses every Monday and Wednesday in the AK Voralrberg. My teacher is amazing even though she put a lot of homework. Every time I feel tired and not really in the mood for lesson at the beginning but with her positiveness and her encouragement, the time passes quickly and the course is productive. Everything is really OK until now.

  • We have bikes and we really have to use them because the village is 20 minutes away from the closest train station.

  • My job is pleasant and the environment is really positive almost everyday. Lots of hugs and love around.

  • I work in the Carpentry and even though I have never worked in this subject I feel useful. My tasks are generally really easy to be done and it is needed to follow the tempo of people that I’m working with. The important thing is to support and encourage the people. To give them a push to do their best and to perform well in their job every day. For most of them the goal is to find a regular job outside the organization, so for that reason they need to be prepared for a demanding working environment. They should feel as confident as possible about themselves and their knowledge in carpentry.

  • Every Friday, if the weather is good, we play games in the field. It’s the most pleasant activity for me. Lots of fun and team feeling. I love it every time.

  • I have to work everyday from 8:00 until 16:30 , except Monday and Wednesday that I’m working until 12:00 because at 18:00 I have Deutsch Course.

  • We have lots of breaks and a big one at 12:00 for lunch.

  • The food is really tasty and nutritious. I’m always full.

  • There is a coffee shop and a bio Market that we can buy good quality products.

  • The organization is really active and it organizes a lot of activities for the people and the community. I’m so glad to be a part. There was a Pumpkin fest last month with lots of visitors, food, music and pumpkins. Also my working area had a big success in making wooden puppets!

  • Last week we had some parties. One for the employees, which was amazing for me. I felt a real member of this institution.

  • And one for all the people of the organization. Really nice also. Me and the other volunteers, we had the chance to do a small presentation about the Christmas in our Country. It was really funny because I did mine in German. But at the end I think all somehow they understood.

  • There are pigs, sheeps, cows and baby cows, bulls and donkeys really close to our house! Its really funny and refreshing to wake up with the donkey’s voice.

  • Next year I will have a job rotation in all the other working areas. And I will realize my project in carpentry. I have already made a skeleton about the idea of the project. Its going to be a simple wooden construction of a perpetual block calendar.

  • I should not forget to mention about the on arrival training that we had 2 months ago in Vienna! One of the greatest experiences. I learned many interesting things about the EVS theme in general and I met really interesting , kind and fun people! I can’t wait for the mid-term meeting on February in Innsbruck.

  • I don’t know what else should I mention. I really and honestly feel that this was the best choice that I have ever made in my life! If anyone will ever say that this is might a waste of precious time, is definitely wrong for me. It’s for sure an educational program! A non-formal one but it definitely is. I have already improved my English and I am on my way to learn German. Hochdeutsch and the voralrberg’s dialect actually.

  • Working in this organization is the best way to see in practice how to interact with people with light intellectual disabilities. In every situation with permanent guidance.

  • I have learn so many things already. Things about my self also. Things that I wasn’t aware of that I own.

  • I feel really confident and thirsty for more in every level of my life.

  • And offering your love and your help to others is something magic for me. And it is appreciated and recognized by others. Not that this is important, but it is kind of a double reward.

  • Also I feel more responsible because firstly I need to be concentrated and focused in what I’m doing and secondly because I need to organize my outcomes according to my receiving budget.

  • Anyway all I can think right now is only improvement on my self through this experience. I hope it will not change in the future.

  • And I should not forget that EVS people are in general the kindest people. It’s weirdly magical that I found people that we share the same ideals , ethics and way of thinking and living. Not only the need to help and offer but also the strong desire of traveling and seizing every experience.

  • I would definitely recommend to everyone who want to discover himself and his limits. Everyone who wants to open his mind and think outside of the box. Everyone who wants to live independent and free in a different country.