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"weltwärts" in Africa, Asia or Latin America

The "weltwärts" programme is an offer for young people aged between 18 and 28 years. If you also:

  • have an interest in a country in Africa, Asia or Latin America,
  • are prepared to be active and dedicated in a deployment site of one of our partner organisations for 12 months,
  • have completed school, an apprenticeship or university studies or any other qualification,
  • at the time of your application have some basic knowledge of the national language of the host country (English, French or Spanish),
  • would like engage yourself in development aid before and after your stay abroad,

then you should go with "weltwärts"!

What is "weltwärts"?

"weltwärts" is a development aid oriented voluntary service that is initiated and funded by the Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ - Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development ). ijgd has been recognised as a sending organisation by the BMZ. weltwärts does not understand itself to be foreign aid, but rather a learning service that allows young people an intercultural exchange and insight into development aid interrelations. This voluntary service aims at showing young people global dependencies and interdependencies and making these processes understandable through the participation in the weltwärts deployment sites as active processes.

"Next to the practical contribution in a development project, mutual learning and an intercultural exchange are central to 'weltwärts'" (weltwärts homepage). "weltwärts" also aims at having an effect beyond the voluntary service and nurturing commitment and/or development aid education work in Germany. In the implementation of quality requirements for the "weltwärts" voluntary services the ijgd has successfully undergone an external inspection by Quifd - Agency for quality in voluntary services (Qualität in Freiwilligendiensten).

Criticism of "weltwärts" and the role of volunteers

Since the beginning of "weltwärts" there have been critical discussions in the public domain and within the ijgd about the development aid claims by the programme. One of the main questions is: what is the purpose of youth without professional qualifications in a so-called developing country? In the last year 90% of all volunteer applicants had no training or degree; can they really be of use in a project in a so-called developing country? ("weltwärts"-)volunteers cannot provide qualified development aid or "change the world" and this is not what the voluntary service claims to do. Experience has shown that voluntary services are less about measurable successes or achievements and more about volunteers getting involved on site after a short period of getting acclimated to the new surroundings and effecting some change on a small scale and thereby making lots of new learning experiences.
The ijgd has been working with its partners on these grounds for a number of years (in some cases since 1985).

From the partner organisations' point of view:

  • "weltwärts" as an official government programme contributes in the revaluation of voluntary services worldwide
  • "weltwärts" enables a more long-term and more effective support of deployment sites (with self-financed voluntary services the average duration lies at 3 months)
  • the goal of the voluntary services is to combine "learning" and "taking action"
  • the local deployment site or project receives support and revaluation through the international interest and engagement of young volunteers

The deployment site can become a part of an international community that enables new contacts and possibilities through the help of the partner organisation, volunteers and their sponsoring societies, relatives and friends.

Simultaneously experience shows that the programme under certain circumstances benefits volunteers as individuals more than the people on site. It is therefore important what volunteers make of it. Do volunteers implement their experience after their return back in Germany productively or do they only utilise their experiences for their own personal gain? Returners from voluntary services should become "multipliers" for an intercultural exchange and for development aid interrelations. Precisely this commitment is one of the main goals of the "weltwärts" programme.