“weltwärts” – voluntary services for young adults in development cooperation projects

With the support of the knodel foundation, the Eine Welt Netz NRW sends young people across the world as part of its "weltwärts" programme to work for a year in international partner projects in Africa and Latin America. The volunteers usually stay abroad for 12 months. The volunteers can apply via the Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung gAG, as they are so called careleavers – young people, who had to spent parts of their lives in stationary children's homes or had to rely on youth welfare. Without support, these yound adults might find it hard to take part in such programms, also due to financial disadvantages.

In August every year some 30 young volunteers set out to work for partner projects in Botswana, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo as well as Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Nicaragua. By being involved in a development project, the volunteers take away experiences that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. This service gives them the motivation, experiences and methods that will allow them to make a long-term commitment to global justice. They are given a wonderful opportunity to really learn about global developments even before the start of their professional lives. It enables them to think about different issues critically (and also self-critically) and makes a genuine long-term contribution to working towards a fairer world. The vast majority of the returning volunteers make a long-term commitment to developmental and global issues.

 

Anyone becoming involved with voluntary services, even as a young person needs to be highly dependable, responsible and independent. Flexibility is also essential, as is the ability to adapt to the sometimes extremely basic conditions. The Team is always impressed by the great capacity of young people to learn, by their openness to self-reflection and their interest in developmental and global issues, and by their dedication to civil society.

Eine Welt Netz NRW looks after all of its volunteers in matters of organisation, advice and education: all the way from the application process and training sessions through the time actually spent abroad to the employment opportunities after their return. The team attaches particular importance to showing that voluntary services have a long-term impact. The results of this work are, for example, plays about voluntary services, themed evenings and the creation of enduring networks with other returning volunteers.

Together with the project “Careleavers Worldwide” by the Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung gAG, this programm targets careleavers from Germany, who want get engaged in development work, after having left youth welfare – normally at the age of 18. These young adults usually lack the broad support by families and financial background, which is  necessary in order to have a succesfull experience.  “Careleavers Worldwide” adds financial, personal and organisational support to the “weltwärts”-programme where needed.

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