My life as a volunteer


My name is Katharina Schopf and I work as a volunteer in the MS centre. Some of you already know me – because you visited the cybercafe or came to the cafeteria while I was working.

I live here now since mid July and have enjoyed my stay a lot. The programme with which I am here is called the “European Voluntary Service”, which gives young people the opportunity to do a service in a foreign country. For me it is a possibility to help people, earn experiences and learn a lot (to a certain extend also about myself). I chose this project because I wished to work with people and wanted to do something practical after school. Furthermore, I am willing to earn some experiences with handicapped people which – not at least – can help me in fulfilling my dream of becoming a psychologist.

After my first two month I can already look back at lots of positive experiences: I learned something about the sickness MS and how a centre as the one in Melsbroek works. But what I think to be much more important is what I learned about life: Lots of patients impress me by their vital energy and therefore teach me not to give up. But also valediction is an important topic which I was drawn attention to. All in all, this service gives me input and time to excogitate proceedings and make up new sights. This way I learn a lot about myself, which is also given by my new independence. As I live here all alone and came here knowing nobody, I had and have to be very autonomous – something which I am not used to as I used to live with my parents and have a regular daily routine with school and old friends before I came here. So it was time for me to take up the reins, get to known new people and take lots of decisions on my own (none of my strengths). Fortunately it worked out and I already found people who I can call friends, with who I can talk, laugh and have fun – which of course should also be part of a voluntary service. Moreover, I found an orchestra in Houtem (Vilvoorde) which admitted me cordially and in which I can follow up my passion to play the drums. Also concerning the language I made positive experiences: As I heard that my language course would not start until mid of September, I started a self-study with the hope of the possibility to skip the first course. Today I can tell you (with a little proud) that I passed the exam to start the third course “Nederlaands voor anderstalige”. Unfortunately, I realized that my French is quite rusty – and that even after five years of French at school it is not really possible anymore to discourse. But I still have the hope that it will get better after some practice – because I already had the pleasure to realize a little progress since my arrival here. So, as you see, I am always happy if there is somebody who has the patience to talk in a foreign language with me.

Anyway, I feel glad every time there are new visitors at my working place, as I still have quite much capacity to fill. Regularly Nurettin and I work in the cybercafe which opens from Monday until Friday at 9:30 and closes at 20:00 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and at 17:00 on Thursday and Friday. You can come and use the computer, but it is also possible to play chess or another game with us. Furthermore, if both of us are working, feel free to ask us to go for a walk or just have a talk. I am also always open for new proposals – also I like variation.

Moreover, we open the cafeteria from Monday till Wednesday from 18:00 to 20:00. Also there I am always happy to see new faces – which of course does not mean that I would not like the established. ;)

Sometimes I also take part in other activities. For example I went with some patients and other companions on a trip to the sea which was organized by I.M.S.O.. This was a very nice event which was framed by perfect weather and great people. Moreover, I sometimes go to regularly organized events of the Ergo as going to the market or to the cinema, which always represents a pleasure for me.


Summing up, you can see that I made and make lots of great experiences here. Therefore, I am happy that I took the decision to do the service and not at least thank my friends and family for supporting me. Moreover, I thank Dr. Ketelaer and I.M.S.O. to make this great project possible.